Alberto Duman


Born in Milan in 1966, Alberto Duman has lived in Britain since 1990. Since graduating from Camberwell College of Art in 1996 with an MA in Printmaking, his artistic practice has focussed on Public Art. Duman is a conceptual and site-specific installation artist who uses a variety of media including print, sound, light, still photography, and moving image (video and film). He is also a researcher and lecturer who has exhibited and published regularly and has held several artist residencies. This year he will be represented in the Sharjah Biennale.

Using a variety of devices, strategies and media, Duman has made work in many diverse contexts: the Gorbals in Glasgow, a disused power station in Latvia, urban wastelands in Cardiff and London, an underground car park in London, rural fields in Oxfordshire, Hull's main square, and a railway passage in London. In 2003, he began researching his practice-based doctorate, entitled Public Art and Landfills: In between questioning values and cleaning consciences. Duman also proposed The Lamby Way Time Capsule Project, a possible participatory public art project in Cardiff. His main interests are 'interdisciplinary approaches to artistic practice in unexpected locations, the relations between artistic practice and urban studies, and the explorations of the inscribed boundaries between culture and nature.'

Duman said that 'interpretational resources form a very essential part of the art-world structure' and that 'the most common form of interpretation is one in which words explain images.' His screenprints - View of Braziers Park, Ibsden, near Wallingford and View of Westbourne Grove, London - produced in 2002, were part of his on-going series of 'English International Images'. Duman began with two images - an English country house (Braziers Park) and a London street (Westbourne Grove). He placed words on the surfaces of these photographic images to cover 'the exact area of the element that the word is there to 'explain'. Foreground and background are eliminated and a flat plan of words in space is the only survivor of this process.'

This process of describing the original image abstracts it from its source, and a car, for example, is rendered just as 'car' rather than incorporating the full descriptive information contained in the original image of that specific car. In the same way, a tree is reduced to the essence of any tree without all the other botanical details which are contained in the picture of that specific tree. One result of this strategy is 'the creation of another image in which the viewer's own imagination re-possesses the power of description from the artist's one'. These screenprints - functioning as 'word-maps' - were first exhibited in The Map Is Not the Territory ii, at England & Co in 2002, and in The Map Is Not the Territory iii at the James Hockey Gallery at Surrey Institute of Art & Design in 2003. The View of Braziers Park, Ibsden, near Wallingford (from the edition) was acquired from England & Co by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in 2007.

In 2008, England & Co published Duman's next series of silkscreen prints, Views of London. Again, as Duman explains, 'five conventional "postcard" views of iconic London structures have been subjected to a process of textual substitution, maintaining the spatial structure of the photographic image but re-mapping each constituent element with a deadpan text description. This treatment partly resists, partly reconfirms the power of the iconic image of the city - and deprives us of the photographic image and returns us to an interpretative 'English International' chart through which a subjective reading of its source can be enacted.

This stripping of the image back to its elemental description or function in space also demystifies the function of landmark architecture: that of being both a beacon and a decoy for its urban surroundings. In the revisited hierarchy of space that results, the urban landscape becomes a composite of textural elements where the viewer can manipulate the narrative at will.'