The Perfection of the iMperfect @ The Surface Gallery

This exhibition is made up of a collection of unusual, diverse and thought-provoking photographs. Taken by eight students from the University of Nottingham the photographers come from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds, with different experiences and photographic styles. Their joint passion for photography, however, is evident. Through this compilation, the exhibition sets out to examine and challenge the notion of the perfect image. What is aimed for, and indeed revealed, is that beauty can be found in imperfection.

By blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, the Perfection of the iMperfect plays with the contrasting ideas of familiarity and the alien. The images are not always clear; some are depicted from atypical angles with hazy edges and faded tones, others show figures in strange undomesticated settings, and several focus on the play of light and colour in dark settings. The questions raised in each of the images seem to be: what exactly is reality? Is there ever one appropriate answer? The exhibition encourages the viewer to acknowledge that the world is not made up of perfect forms: everything is prone to distortion, uncertainty and destruction. Nevertheless, these forms are also part of reality and they too are beautiful.

Duncan Coulter’s photographic images were particularly striking. They each seemed to capture, effortlessly, a particular moment in time: a naked couple sitting together, a young girl sipping from a plastic cup, two lone figures swimming in the ocean. The images were, with their soft faded colours and contemplative atmosphere; beautiful, and worthy of attention. They seemed to suggest that life goes on despite the imperfections, and such moments that seem insignificant are the most beautiful.

Roberta Cucchiaro’s (also joint producer of the exhibition) photographs taken in China were unconventionally exquisite. The sharp black and white images did not depict traditionally beautiful or aesthetic scenes of China; instead, images portrayed sights such as a graphitised wall, a crowded escalator, a bus travelling along a dusty road. Yet, this is how Roberta wanted to remember her time in China – not simply defined by ‘perfect’ tourist settings, but by real places and real moments.

After speaking with Roberta, it became clear that a lot of thought, time and hard work went into the exhibition. It was truly worth it.

By Bethan Parry


ArtsArts ReviewsLead articles

Leave a Reply