Parafin is pleased to announce an exhibition with Syrian artist Sara Naim. It will be Naim’s first solo show with the gallery and follows on from her participation in ‘Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty’ in 2017.
Naim is known primarily as a photographic artist but in fact makes much of her work using a Transmission Electronic Microscope, Scanning Electron Microscope and a high-resolution Flatbed Scanner. Using these hi-tech tools Naim creates seemingly abstract quasi-photographic imagery which addresses philosophical concerns including the ‘reality’ of physical structures, the notion of the ‘border’ and the possibility that technological glitches reveal new, abstract information. In presenting her work Naim often blurs distinctions between image and object, so that her work becomes a hybrid form between image and sculpture.
For Naim, the notion of the ‘reaction’ is a key concept. Characterising a ‘reaction’ as the byproduct of a changing state, her work explores the ways that under examination specific processes and substances can become physical manifestations of abstract reactions. These forms are visualised through the magnification and materialisation of chemical and digital interactions. Massively enlarged biological surfaces and chemical structures thereby become suggestive of landscapes or organisms, and take on pronounced human and emotional resonance.
Another key concept for Naim is the notion of the border. She questions the physicality of a border through visualising micro-formations, and dissects how proportion shapes our perception and notion of the boundary. Naim says, ‘It is presumed that magnification brings the viewer closer to the subject and therefore its truths, but in fact they become distanced through the abstract renderings’. This leads her to ask: If borders do not exist on a cellular scale, can we define ‘border’ on a macro scale? Can shape be considered an object in itself?
Technological glitches are another access point that Naim uses to describe the fabric of contemporary encounters. Quiver (2018) images a screenshot of a digital corruption that occurred as the artist edited an image of her own dead skin cells, transferred the digital file into a photographic negative, and once again scanned the image to re-digitise it. Striving to locate a tiny acidified sample of copper, the Transmission Electron Microscope creates an image reminiscent of a distant galaxy in Electron Beam (2018). A glitch produced by a Scanning Electron Microscope whilst imaging the artist’s blood cells suggests a weird agitated liquid, producing a new visual form through a kind of communication failure in Spasm; Lost Connection of a Blood Cell (2018). In the Reaction series, light’s chemical reaction to expired polaroid film chemistry evokes geological terrain. These chemical and physical interferences stimulate new and unique states, resulting in commonplace subjects – skin, blood, photographic film, light – being rendered strange and foreign.
Sara Naim (b.1987, London) studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication and The Slade School of Fine Art. She grew up between London and Dubai and currently lives and works between London and Paris. Solo exhibitions include ‘When Heartstrings Collapse’, The Third Line, Dubai (2016) and ‘Heartstrings’, Concrete, Hayward Gallery, London (2015). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty’, Parafin London (2017), ‘The Third Image’, Biennale des Photographes du Monde Arabe Contemporain (2017).