Project Release: Jackie Nickerson, "TERRAIN"

fototazo publishes new photography projects, providing an early look at images from selected artists. Today's Project Release is from Jackie Nickerson.

Nickerson makes photographs that examine the essential nature of people and their relationship to the natural world through personal identity, and the physical and psychological condition of living and working within a specific environment.

Her first body of work, FARM, was made over a three-year period in rural locations all over southern Africa. It concentrates on how individual identity is made through improvisation. This was published by Jonathan Cape in September 2002 and was followed by a German edition entitled 'Leben Mit Der Erde' published by Frederking and Thaler (2002) and a French edition, 'Une Autre Afrique' published by Flammarion (2002).

Her most recent work revisits Eastern and Southern Africa and focuses on labor and how the exertions of labor leave psychic and material traces in people and the environment. The work comprises of a number of series including TERRAIN, Jaggery, Lime and Field 22.

Jackie Nickerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1960. Her work has been exhibited internationally including at the Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; National Portrait Gallery, London; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and the Hereford Museum, UK.

Her work is held in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Vatican Museums, Rome; and the National Gallery of Ireland.

In 2008 she was the winner of the AIB prize and has been short listed for the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis award (2008) and the John Kobal Prize (2003). In 2007 she was selected to be part of Le Mois de la Photo in Paris showing at the Centre Culturel Irlandais. She is the recipient of a Culture Ireland award and three Visual Art Bursaries from the Irish Arts Council.

She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and Brancolini Grimaldi in London.

A text on the work follows the images.


TERRAIN is Jackie Nickerson's new work in progress. It is about us in the landscape, how we change the world we inhabit at every moment of our being human, and how, for better and for worse, the habitus that we make, in turn, changes who we are.

People and landscapes in TERRAIN intertwine and co-exist at that moment which is central to the moil of the human race – the cultivation of crops and the turning of raw materials into something made.

Gazing steadily at the point at which one element meets another, TERRAIN asks us to think about these imprints left by the material processes of work as the evidence of our presence on the earth, and to think about how contemporary human beings, living in a Western urban environment, can relate to the metaphysics of the labor which enables our lives.

In a time when environmental politics thinks too simplistically about the effect that humans have on nature, TERRAIN nudges us towards a deeper understanding of the lived spaces of human activity. Here hands and plants, limbs and fabric, bodies and soil hold close to one another. Visually, the easy sense that there is nature and that there is humanity, and that the two are separate, ceases to exist. In TERRAIN people are, in the fullest sense of that archaic adjective, 'terrene', of the earth.

Text provided by Jackie Nickerson.