Given the theme of our current issue, it’s perhaps no surprise that here at uncube we were rather taken by these striking ceramic vessels, created by Peter Olson, featuring angels and skulls aplenty. However, within “Photo Ceramica”, the body of work he’s been creating since 2010, nothing is quite what it seems.
Olson is in fact a photographer by training and despite an aesthetic that at first glance seems reminiscent of the figuration and patterning found on Chinese or Renaissance ceramics, there’s actually a lot of contemporary city imagery concentrated onto these pots. That’s no typical glaze technique either: the kaleidoscopic montages are instead made up of leftover iron oxide present in the ink of photographic prints that he applies directly onto the unfired pots. When these are then fired, these burn away to leave behind a permanent image formed by the residual iron oxide.
The photos, as with the vessels themselves, were all made by Olson himself, part of his efforts to capture and contribute to “a network of increasing complexity” and include shots of New York’s Time Square, Damien Hirst’s famous shark, lines of riot police, the streets of Mexico City, Newark Airport’s departure hall, marble nudes and even a steel mill in Alabama.
Combining a weird and wonderful mix of chemical reactions and multi-layered depictions of popular culture, Olson’s work certainly gives new meaning to the expression “melting pot”...
Further reading: images of the “beyond” abound in our current uncube issue no. 38: Death.