UNDERCOVER #17: IDRIS KHAN
by Gianpaolo Arena


Editors “An End Has a Start”, 2007 Kitchenware Records



After the successful debut of ‘The Black Room’, the Liverpool band’s sequel came with the expected ‘An End Has a Start’. Personally not one of my favorite bands, with too predictable sounds often modeled on the radio rock sound of bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, U2, Interpol and the other numerous heirs of the English new wave, influenced mainly by Joy Division and by Echo And The Bunnymen. An album without special flashes or brilliant insights, however well-played, well-produced and capable of alternating catchy rock songs with slow and melancholic ballads.

The cover image, a gasholder recomposed by digitally superimposing other layers of the same image in sequence, is by the hand of Idris Khan, a British artist of Pakistani origin. Khan obtained an MA at the Royal College of Art in London in 2004; Despite his young age - Khan was born in Birmingham in 1978 - the author has exposed among others at Taidehalli and the Kunsthalle in Helsinki, at the Musée de l'Elysée in Switzerland, the Victoria Miro and the Saatchi gallery in London, the K20 in Dusseldorf, the Gothenburg Konsthall in Sweden and at the MoMA in San Francisco.

Idris Khan makes his works by overlaying images representing the same object in a path where the original object’s aura and his artistic intervention compare semantically and echo each other constantly. In this citationist game, expertly balanced between past and present, the author’s cultural awareness becomes apparent as it slowly reveals the influence of the new German objectivity: Karl Blossfeldt, August Sander and Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Starting from the inventories of anonymous architectures and the conceptual serialism of the types well-known to the Germans spouses, Khan, through digital reworking, changes opacity and transparency of the various layers of the image. He uses photography as a citational medium, in which the citations are part of a larger, intellectual and cognitive process.  As a result,the final overall image appears more and more mysterious. Khan’s images work on an axis from the rigor of a teutonic visual grammar to the recomposition of floating and moving images.


© Still from the video 'Idris Khan: New Photographs'. By Fraenkel Gallery


Idris Khan every... Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters, 2004 © Fraenkel Gallery


© Still from the video 'Idris Khan: In the Studio'. By Blouin Artinfo


This Rose, 2012 © Fraenkel Gallery

 
© Still from the video 'Idris Khan (Artist Talk): Conversations with Contemporary Artists'. By Guggenheim Museum


---

Undercover is a special issue dedicated to photographers and musical covers.