Thursday 20 June 2013

Review of Nicolai Howalt: Light Break at Edel Assanti

Nicolai Howalt: Light Break
Edel Assanti
23 May – 22 June 2013

“I see,” we say so often, meaning “I understand.” And, indeed, seeing is not just believing, but also our best means of comprehending. Light, which makes seeing possible, also makes life possible. The sun is the great creator. And not only does it create and sustain, but, as the late 19th century Danish Nobel laureate Dr Niels Finsen discovered, it can also heal. With his invention of the Finsen Lamp, he was able to direct the sun’s ultraviolet rays, invisible to the human eye, through a series of crystal prisms, directly on to his patients’ skin, and thus affect a cure for lupus. A recently uncovered archive in Copenhagen contains early documentary photographs of these patients, alongside medical artefacts, and moulages, or wax “life masks,” detailing their before and after states. This groundbreaking medical development might not have been possible, had it not been for the simultaneous advances in photography, exploring and exploiting the properties of light.

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