Anderson & Low: City of Mines
Based in London, Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low have been collaborating as “Anderson & Low” since 1990. Their photographic work includes portraiture, architectural studies, abstract images, reportage, nudes, and landscape and is noted for attention to concept, form, lighting, and printing. Their photographs are exhibited internationally, and are included in many public and private collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, National Portrait Galleries of both the UK and Australia, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, High Museum of Art, Baltimore Art Museum, Atlanta, National Gallery of Australia, Akron Museum, The National Gallery of Australia, the Southeast Photography Museum, Florida, and Museet Fotokunst, Denmark, the US Olympic Center, and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Their Athlete/Warrior photographs were exhibited at the Fine Arts Center in 2005.
Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low describe the sense of wonder that the Colorado town of Victor – the City of Mines – has instilled in them over many years of visiting and photographing this place. The artists have elegantly stated that Victor “hypnotized us and really got under our skin; it is a place to which the Colorado winds always seem to blow us back.” They have articulated a similarly poetic expression in both the visual language and subjects of the photographs that comprise their City of Mines project.
As with their previous bodies of work, the visual language employed by Anderson & Low in City of Mines is direct yet eloquent. Their choice of medium as well as dominant visual threads reiterate Victor’s “hypnotic” power for the artists. While Anderson & Low have worked effectively in both black-and-white and color, the latter form was an important choice as it communicates necessary moments of human warmth, life, and resilience in an overwhelmingly tough and uncompromising environment. The artists also clearly have an affinity for the proliferation of commercial text in Victor. The text becomes a significant component of our engagement with the images, reminding us of photography’s unique capacity for simultaneous graphic clarity and metaphoric suggestion. Although metaphor may not be a dominant motivation behind Anderson & Low’s City of Mines work, its subtle voice indeed emerges in the seasonal whispers of autumn and spring. As we advance though this body of work, the interplay of snowy and windswept bleakness with hints of green renewal may suggest, or at least reiterate, Victor’s cycles of advance and decline.
The images weave back-and-forth from expansive landscapes to intimate interiors. Although the subjects are primarily architectural, these historic structures speak of autographic assertion imprinted for over a century. This is the work of permanent and temporary residents, unseen in the photographs, but recorded nonetheless in delightfully accented domestic and commercial spaces. We also witness the hand of those residents in the ravaged mountainsides occupying the background in some of Anderson & Low’s photographs. This is the trace of industrial mining activity from which this town blossomed and withered, yet the artists do not dwell on it and trust us to apprehend that tough history while celebrating the persistence of life in this place.
Colorado’s history as a state has spanned a similar duration to that of photography as a visual and conceptual medium. Adventurous and passionate photographic documentarians and artists alike have intensively represented the diverse landscape, its people, and the ideas that have defined Colorado and its pivotal role in the continuing story of America, from the Manifest Destiny gloriously represented in 19th century photographs by William Henry Jackson to its late-20th century realization heartbreakingly realized in Robert Adams’s images. With City of Mines, Anderson & Low’s work will now be inextricably connected to this Rocky Mountain history and the photographs depicting and representing it.