Matthew Marks Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Darren Almond: Sometimes Still at 523 West 24th Street. The exhibition marks the debut of a six-screen high-definition video Almond photographed near Kyoto, Japan, over the past several years. Three new photographs made in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda will also be on view in the gallery at 526 West 22nd Street.
In Sometimes Still Darren Almond follows a Tendai monk as he engages with the Buddhist process of Kaihogyo, the feat of physical and mental endurance by which these monks attempt to reach a state of Buddhahood. The goal of Kaihogyo is to discover ultimate truth and fulfillment by facing death and being reminded of one’s own mortality. Sometimes Still takes the form of six separate high definition screens. Five of the screens show a novice monk going through aspects of the Kaihogyo ritual, and the sixth screen shows a monk who has already completed the process of Kaihogyo tending a fire. Only 46 monks have completed the ritual in the preceding four centuries. It is a protracted meditation of seven years during which the monk will walk or run a series of extraordinary distances, up to 50 miles a day, in succession. Governed by strict rules and traditions, the novice will have traveled far enough to have circumnavigated the world by the completion of Kaihogyo, all while wearing white robes of the type traditionally used in Japan to dress their dead and carrying a knife and length of rope that he must use to kill himself if he is unable to complete his training. In the fifth year of the process, the novice enters a seven day fast, or doiri, during which time he cannot sleep, eat or drink. The stillness that follows the physical exertions that have gone before endows the novice with a rarefied and razor-sh arp state of consciousness, a peace of mind from being brought face to face with death and a heightening of all of the senses caused by the restrictions of doiri. It is the repetition involved in Kaihogyo that is at the fore; the repeated chanting of mantras, the constant daily revisiting of the same mountain trails, the process of putting one foot in front of another again and again, of tuning into that rhythm and seeing it through.
Almond began making his Fullmoon series of photographs in 1999 with a shot of Mount Saint Victoire in Provence that had been the subject of many of Cézanne’s paintings. The photographs are all taken at night under a full moon with a long exposure, and the resulting images reveal the details of the darkened landscape that the human eye cannot see. The subject of these new Fullmoon photographs is the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. One of the most remote and distinctive environments in the world, the ecosystem and topography of the mountains remained uncharted by early explorers, as dense fog often partly obscures the range. Almond’s photographs capture this landscape when the fog clears, illuminated by an otherworldly light.
Darren Almond (b. 1971) lives and works in London. This will be his fifth one-person exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery since 2000. Almond participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale and has had one-person museum exhibitions at the Tate Britain, London; the Kunsthalle Zürich; de Appel Centre for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; and K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf among others.