"Matsuda" Analogue print on Linen 90X90 Cm. 1992
"Black on black", analogue prints on linen fabric (50 x 50 cm / 90 x 90 cm). 1988-1992
At first, the eye perceives only a surface that is both full and empty, uniform. Little by little, the eye adapts and distinguishes one by one of the distinctive signs of a face until it grasps it in its totality.
Note: renderings simulating the intermediate stage of the vision of two of these photographic portraits which cannot be reproduced by photography.
"Bara Fall" Analogue print on Linen 90X90 Cm. 1992
Walking into Zabo Chabiland's installation, The black Project, the viewer is confronted by a series of squares, black canvases, whose depth and solidity gives them the status of objects or architectural features. The mood is sombre and ordered, with minimal and classical associations, while the canvases themselves allude to representations of infinite space or a barren void.
It is with these ideas in mind that the viewer begins to detect disturbances of light breaking the black surfaces, which on closer inspection reveal the faintest traces of a human face.
Each pictures/object- the status is now ambiguous-'contains' a face: disembodied, eyes closed, hovering somewhere behind the picture plane.The faces, though barely visible, register as photographic images, which, when matched with an overall three-dimensionality, give the works an unnerving human presence.
But, like death masks, the faces betray no indication of an expressive life. We are left to consider them as relics might be read more clearly by anthropologists, or as abstract signs of precarious human condition. Chabiland's simple, eloquent works have a spectral grace that seems at odds with a time when the pain, trauma and visceral revelations of death are writ large in our collective consciousness - a time when death, both private and public, is considered fair game for advertisers. These are reverent yet unsettling works, dark spaces where emblems of human spirit lie dormant just out of reach.
Head of exhibitions
The Photographers’ Gallery,
South east Museunm of Photography, 1992.
""John Debella" Analogue print on Linen 90X90 Cm. 1992