MULTIGRAPHS

C-TYPE PRINTS. DIMENSIONS VARIABLE (2018)

An ongoing series of portraits made using a Victorian mirror device. The images, known as ‘Multigraphs’, capture five simultaneous views of the subject in a single exposure. It’s an illusion produced entirely in-camera. The portraits complicate our visual perception, using the camera and mirror not just as objects to be ‘seen through’. The process subverts the idea of a photograph capturing one moment in time. Instead, we’re presented with a multiverse of possible moments.

Forsyth & Pollard say: “The first time we saw a Multigraph, we assumed it was a séance. But then you realise something’s not quite right. There’s some sort of trick, you’re looking at an impossible meeting of the divided-self. It’s a sub-conscious piece of self-conscious theatre. We loved them and immediately wanted to make our own”.

Mirror reflections have long haunted Western art. But here, the absence of a visible frame disrupts our perception. The subject isn’t in full control. The unstable relationship between the five figures lends the group an uncanny, off-kilter agency. We sense a gang, a secret pact, the hint of ritual. But also something unreal, almost synthetic, post-human. When a reflection holds your gaze, it reads like a dissenter in the ranks. The conspiratorial undertone is shattered by this perceived non-conformist — the rebel.

With a longstanding interest in reflection and refraction, Forsyth & Pollard’s practice has been a form of portraiture from the very start. From their first video self-portrait to early live projects, including A Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide (ICA, London 1998). More recently, they’ve expanded on these ideas in their feature-documentary 20,000 Days on Earth (Film4/BFI, 2014), an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, made with the musician Nick Cave.

The first group of these portraits were created at Somerset House Studios, with their regular collaborator, photographer Paul Heartfield. The subjects are all people they have worked with across their practice.

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Somerset House Studios
Photographer: Paul Heartfield
Make-Up & Hair: Martina Luisetti/Famida Pathan
Production Assistant: Archie Smith
Equipment Hire: Shift 4