Shot in the alpine landscape that inspired Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Chloe Dewe Mathews’ photographic series In Search of Frankenstein juxtaposes snow-covered mountains with a network of eerie subterranean bunkers, built in the 1960s to shelter the entire population of Switzerland in the event of a nuclear disaster.
The project was conceived during a residency at the Verbier 3-D Foundation in 2016, when the artist discovered that Shelley’s manuscript was started during an unusual holiday on the shores of Lake Geneva. The ominously wet weather conditions of 1816 – the “Year without Summer” – forced Shelley and her cohort to stay indoors day after day, dreaming up ghost stories, from which Frankenstein’s monster emerged.
Dewe Mathews photographed the region that had inspired the eighteen year old author, exploring miles of underground corridors and vast melting glaciers that seemed to offer parallels between Shelley’s prophetic socio-environmental concerns and the anxieties of our time. In Search of Frankenstein presents a contemporary sublime, which affords this monumental piece of literature fresh resonance, two hundred years after it was first published.
The exhibition In Search of Frankenstein brings this new body of photographic work to the relevant context of the British Library. Selected objects from the Shelley archive, including the first edition of Frankenstein, will be on display in the nearby Treasures Gallery for the duration of the exhibition.
The artist book In Search of Frankenstein will be released in April 2018 by the independent publishing house Kodoji Press. The book combines Dewe Mathews’ photographs with reproductions of the Geneva Notebook: the first half of Mary Shelley’s original manuscript, which was purchased during the Shelleys’ infamous holiday on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Chloe Dewe Mathews: ‘In Search of Frankenstein’ at The British Library
13th April 2018 – 1st July 2018
Second Floor Gallery
The British Library
96 Euston Road
About Chloe Dewe Mathews:
Chloe Dewe Mathews is a photographic artist based in St Leonards-on-Sea. After studying fine art at Camberwell College of Arts and the University of Oxford, she worked in the feature film industry before dedicating herself to photography.
Her work is internationally recognised, exhibiting at Tate Modern, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Museum Folkwang and Fotomuseum Antwerp, as well as being published widely in newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times, Harpers and Le Monde.
Public and private collections have acquired Chloe’s work, including the British Council Art Collection, the Irish State Art Collection and the National Library of Wales. She has also received commissions from institutions such as the Contemporary Art Society, Oxford University and Photoworks.
Her awards include the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award, the Julia Margaret Cameron New Talent Award and the Royal Photographic Society Vic Odden Award and her nominations include the Deutsche BÃ¶rse Photography Prize, the Prix Pictet and Paul Huf Award.
Chloe’s first monograph Shot at Dawn’ was published by Ivorypress in 2014 and in the same year she became the Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.