Opening on 1 October 2021, Michael Reid Berlin is delighted to present Trent Parke’s The Crimson Line. The exhibition will coincide with Berlin’s largest festival of photography, the European Month of Photography (EMOP) 2021.
The Crimson line series is a meditation on the impact of hard industry on the visual environment, using the fleeting colours of twilight to irradiate an overlooked, unappealing and often-ignored world. Soaring plumes of steam are illuminated in gradient as they catch the rising and setting sun; industrial complexes, fire-lit and skeletal, are silhouetted against the vivid landscapes beyond. First shown in his 2019 exhibition book of the same name, Trent Parke presents a tonal progression from one image to the next. Mirroring this, Michael Reid Berlin has selected 21 works that encapsulate the series, and presented them in Parke’s intended order, contiguously spanning our gallery.
Hailing from the steel city of Newcastle, and growing up with his father working at Tubemakers, it was only a matter of time before Parke was drawn to the jagged, industrial landscape that surrounds the Adelaide beachside suburb where he lives. One of Parke’s only early childhood memories is accompanying his mother to pick his dad up from work, travelling through a vista of ship yards, chimneys, and the BHP steelworks.
Parke has always been interested in the transformative powers of light but it was the ephemeral colours of dawn and dusk, the great multitude of reds that made him curious about the colour crimson. He discovered the colour that is used in commercial products is harvested from the crushed and boiled bodies of the female scale insect, the Cochineal. A minute insect that inhabits the pads of the prickly pear cactus, farmed solely for their crimson dye.
Cinematic in his vision, Parke’s work has always been firmly established in film noir. Like his previous published books; Minutes to Midnight and The Christmas Tree Bucket, Parke builds a narrative that twists and turns. From the micro to the macro, science, genetics, factory lines, laboratories and processing plants. Global warming, consumerism and beauty, his landscapes provide a backdrop that frames a dark and foreboding narrative of strange truth and fiction.