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Threshold Zone by Jeese Alexander Jesse Alexander exhibition
O3 Gallery Oxford


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For millenia, and throughout every culture, the subterranean has been a setting for mythologies and folklore, with a prince of the underworld keeping guard in almost every known religion. Although caves and the the underground are culturally known for where beasts reside and where bad things can happen, they have also functioned as sites of initiation as well as provided shelter and sanctuary.

Threshold Zone explores this dichotic relationship by placing the viewer in the space between the entrances to underground spaces (the 'light zone'), and where the space enters a state of perpetual darkness - the 'dark zone'. The works create a tension between apprehension and curiosity, inspiring imgaes of mythology, fantasy and science fiction.

Jesse Alexander has photographed caves and man-made subterranean structures including mines, bunkers and reservoirs, predominantly around the South West of England.

Using a large-format camera with only available light to illuminate the images, he has had to rely on exposure times as long as one week to capture enough light. The resulting 'hyperreal' tableaux are decoys - photographic renditions that seem to depict a split-second, yet actually portray an extended period of time, made possible only by the static and isolated nature of these underground locations. The presentation of the images inthe form of lightboxes lends a physical quality to the work, whereby the tiny scraps of light that made the scenes visible at the point of photographic exposure become powerful, perhaps spiritual elements.

Threshold Zone was installed within the Redcliffe Caves in Bristol during November 2008, where it was moderated for a Master of Fine Art postgraoduate degree in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport. As well as providing a potent atmosphere to further contextualise the work, the caves were an appropriate location to show the work, given their rich history and the mythology that surrounds them.


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