Adam Fuss


Born London, 1961

Adam Fuss grew up moving between rural Sussex in the South of England and Australia before settling to work in New York in 1982. He made his first photogram in 1986.

His work concerns the discovery of the unseen: it deals with time and energy rather than material form. As well as mastering numerous historic and modern photographic techniques, Fuss has developed an array of symbolic or emblematic motifs.

Drawing upon his childhood memories and personal experiences, his works are conceived as visual elegies centred around the universal themes of life and death. Through outward sensory vision, they explore metaphysical ideas of non-sensory insight.

The butterfly is a classic symbol of the brevity of life, its flight standing for the passage of the soul. It is captured here in an obsolescent technique, that of daguerreotype. Made on silvered copper plates, daguerreotypes were invented in the 1840s and used mainly for portraiture. Here the plate has been intentionally overexposed, producing a shimmering blue

Flocks of birds scatter in flight. One bird is singled out, surrounded by a halo of others, as if protected and guided in its ascent.

Throughout the history of art, the snake has symbolised a loss of innocence, the coming of a self-reflective state or an ecstatic struggle. It is a recurring motif in Fuss’s work. Using live animals in his studio, he explores the snake’s many symbolic and metaphorical manifestations

‘The work’, says Fuss, ‘is about the passage of that quality of presence, which is not physical, but is still real.’ A child’s christening robe appears as a shroud devoid of bodily forms. Closer inspection reveals a snake-like figure, one of Fuss’s recurring emblems, woven into the fabric.

The images in My Ghost (1995-2001) are at once a personal story and a set of universal emblems. They express the idea of a human presence that is lost but recalled momentarily by its traces, both physical and emotional. Here a funereal column of smoke includes a spectre in vaguely human form.


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