The Surgeon and the Photographer

When artist Geoffrey Farmer heard that a second-hand bookshop in his hometown of Vancouver was closing, he went and bought more than 200 books, which he used to create these rather creepy collaged hand-puppets.

Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)
Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)

The 365 puppets are now being shown together at the Barbican, in Farmer’s upcoming show The Surgeon and the Photographer.

Jane Alison, senior curator at the Barbican Art Gallery, says the work draws on the ‘radical and playful legacy of Dada and Neo-Dada’ and complements the Barbican’s current Duchamp show.

Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)
Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)

Farmer, meanwhile, says the idea for the work came to him one day when he was flipping through a book in the doomed bookstore and thinking about the relationship between the book and his hand.

‘I thought perhaps this might apply to the images it contained, ‘ he says, ‘That is when I started to construct the hand-puppets.’

Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)
Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)

The puppets themselves are arranged across a 90m-long space, in large and small groups, suggesting crowds or processions and portraits of days and months.

The exhibition also features a computer-controlled montage, in which whole images are cut to construct the hand-puppet figures, and matched to sounds.

Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)
Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 (detail)

Geoffrey Farmer: The Surgeon and the Photographer, is at The Curve, Barbican Centre, London EC2, from 26 March-28 July.

Latest articles