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Jemima Wyman | Fume

Artist Statement

My solo exhibition Fume, features plumes of smoke from flares, fires or deterrents present during protest. Fume expands on my ongoing photo collage practice, where I accumulate images documenting global activism that are printed, hand-cut, and arranged. My work continues to investigate the use of camouflage as a visual and psychological device related to power. Fume evokes the origin of the word ‘camouflage’ that develops from the French camouflet meaning ‘whiff of smoke in the face’.

Fume features three different series’ of collages: Haze / Plume / Billow. The Haze... series weaves images of smoke together to form nebulous landscapes (or smokescapes) that mimic the abstract shapes found in camouflage textiles. The multiple works titled Plume... feature smoke formations trapped and hovering within the frame. Like signals of distress they emanate from the ground up and are all different in shape and colour. Smoke is reflected and symmetrical in the Billow... series. Forming a pattern from a distance and revealing shadows and debris from conflict up close.

Activists, police and military use smoke as a tactical weapon in confrontations. I document these uses in the multi-page titles listing each piece of cut smoke with: the protest, the location, and the date. The result is an incomplete document of global unrest for a moment already passed. Ephemeral, and sometimes noxious, the particles caught in the air of these collages also contain rage. Smoke is a siren, a signal of past, current and future distress.

Jemima Wyman, 2021