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In The Open | Steve Baker & Amy Cutler


Steve Baker is a Norwich-based artist and writer, affiliated to the University of Central Lancashire as Emeritus Professor of Art History.  His writings since the 1990s have contributed to the development of the field of animal studies in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and his books include Picturing the Beast, The Postmodern Animal, most recently Artist|Animal.  In recent years he has resumed his long-lapsed art practice, and since 2010 his work has been shown in group exhibitions in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe.  In 2014-2015 his work was included in Arche Noah, an extensive survey exhibition of modern and contemporary art on animal themes at the Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany, where it was shown alongside the work of artists ranging from Picasso and Beuys to Abramović and Gursky.   His joint exhibition with Mike Dodd, Trees and Other Objects, was shown in Norwich in 2017.

Amy Cutler is a painter, poet, and filmmaker, and currently Early Career Research Fellow in the GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, University of London, working on her Leverhulme project on the imagination of British forests.  As well as teaching and writing on dark ecologies and nature theory, she works as a curator, and in 2013 ran the exhibition of 100 artists, historians, and scientists, Time, the Deer, is in the Wood of Hallaig.  She also runs the national award-winning cultural geography cinema PASSENGERFILMS, and in May 2017, she curated the festival Liar Lyre at the Wellcome Trust, which brought together experimental geographers, musicians, field recordists, poets and composers to create alternative nature documentary scores.  Her most recent painting is the cover of the record The Auld Triangle by psych/folk/landscape band The Trembling Bells, and she’s currently working on the book Forest (Hatje Cantz, 2018), on future urban ecologies, with the photographer Yan Preston.

Every Forest a Reframing

The collaborative project Every Forest a Reframing has developed from Baker and Cutler’s shared interest in the contemporary status of woodland and forest imagery in the arts.  It builds on Cutler’s research on the forest in modern philosophy and poetry, and on Baker’s images of the woodlands and wetlands of East Anglia in his photographic series Like Columns of Tiny Ants.  Their early exchanges explored themes of repetition and reframing, and of linguistic and pictorial splits, glitches and misalignments.  Cutler was also interested in ‘the endless practice of haunting citation’, and this helped to shape the development of Baker’s series Sudek’s Trees.  This involved re-photographing existing work by the Czech photographer Josef Sudek (‘the poet of Prague’) in order conceptually to place his work in an imagined relation to the trees of the East Anglian landscape.  Cutler’s photographs and modified collages explore the idea of multi-spectral forests, including composite canopy imaging.