Idris Khan

2 - 30 September 2006
Victoria Miro Gallery I


16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

In this new body of work, Khan re-photographs and digitally layers a sequence or series of pictures in an enigmatic play of appropriation and re-creation. His photographs possess characteristics more akin to drawing or painting and are presented as a kind of photographic palimpsest, animated by the accumulative intervention of the artist's hand. The influence of early proponents of the modern typology movement, Karl Blossfeldt and later, Bernd and Hilla Becher, has strong resonance in the work of Idris Khan. At one remove from typology, Khan collapses and condenses series of images to create work that proposes new visual and conceptual terms to consider and distill historical photographic practice. According to the artist, his work offers 'a playful emblem of our own departure from the corpse of photography, burdened with what the Futurist Anton Guilio Bragaglia once referred to as its "glacial reproduction of reality".'

Fascinated by the images, practitioners and theoretical writings that have influenced the history of photography, the artist has recently moved beyond the subject of photography to literature and music. Struggling to Hear…After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas, 2005 condenses sheets of music from Beethoven's piano sonatas to a single composite image. The work poignantly considers Beethoven's personal frustration with the deterioration of his hearing. Musical notes coalesce in a dense blur of abstract movement and chart their own rhythm across the page in an attempt to be heard. Offering a visual replication of the composer's frustration, Khan suggests that the memory of music - its idea, shape and image - became more essential to Beethoven than its sound.

An enlarged page of multi-layered text from one of Freud's key psychoanalytic works forms the photograph Sigmund Freud's 'The Uncanny', 2006. The image challenges the viewer to digest all the essay's words in one glance. As the artist describes: 'it's kind of a fantasy and a nightmare rolled into one - the wish fulfillment of apprehending a whole book in an instant, but the fear and anxiety of never being able to understand what the book wants to tell us'. Beneath the shadows of the text two images emerge - Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and The Virgin and Child with St Anne. In his book Sigmund Freud discusses these paintings with reference to the 'Vulture fantasy' - claimed to be da Vinci's first visual memory as a child. In this fantasy da Vinci describes a vulture sweeping down onto his chest and pecking into his mouth. Freud interprets this reference as a manifestation of the erotic relations between mother and child: "My mother pressed countless passionate kisses on my lips". The mouth, often rendered as an enigmatic smile, is a potent feature of da Vinci's female figures and has, for viewers, long produced the most powerful and confusing effect. In Khan's 'The Uncanny' a deep dark void draws the viewer into the image, echoing what historical writers and poets have written about this smile: 'she who seems to smile seductively, now to stare coldly and soullessly into the void.'

Returning to photography's historical archives, Khan's body of work entitled, Rising Series..... After Eadweard Muybridge 'Human and Animal Locomotion', 2005 looks back to early scientific experimentations with photography. This series of five platinum prints borrow images from Muybridge's sequential motion studies of human and animal form. Khan's intimate works, both in scale and subject, realise an aesthetic and narrative quality far removed from the scientific pedigree of Muybridge's research. Creating an unequivocally pictorial aesthetic, the choreographed movements of these human subjects, now seemingly suspended between the present and the afterlife, evoke the Victorian fascination with the spiritual and metaphysical possibilities of photography.

Khan affords similar treatment to the photographs of plant segments collected by pioneering 19th century photographer Karl Blossfeldt. Some 6,000 plants were captured on film as a pedagogical record in Blossfeldt's book, 'Art Forms in Nature', as he sought to expound the principle that 'nature is our best teacher'. Khan's ghostly Blossfeldt.... After Karl Blossfeldt 'Art Forms in Nature', 2005 belies its natural origins and solicits a psychological mood and relationship with the work, formerly extracted by Blossfeldt's meticulous documentation of characteristic, detail, pattern and texture of nature.

Victoria Miro

16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
t: +44 (0)20 7336 8109

View map

Victoria Miro Venice

Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994,

Calle Drio La Chiesa

30124 Venice, Italy

t: +39 041 523 3799
View map

Opening Times

During exhibitions:

Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–6pm. 


Venice: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm. 


We are also closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. 


Admission free. 



All general enquiries should be sent to


All press enquiries should be sent to
All rights and reproduction enquiries should be sent to

Victoria Miro does not accept unsolicited artist applications.


Before contacting or subscribing please read our Privacy Policy


We respect the choices you make about how you would like to hear from us. You will find links at the bottom of all emails we send from our mailing list which allow you to Update your preferences to change the way we contact you, or Unsubscribe if you want to opt out.


Read our Modern Slavery Statement here.


Read our sustainability statement here.


Staff contact details


Victoria Miro
W.P. Miro
Glenn Scott Wright
Gussie Huddart
Executive Assistant to Directors
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0491


Divya Pande
Head of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0903
Oliver Miro
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0496
Paula Sankoff
Senior Director, Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0494
Clare Coombes
Director of Sales - Museum Acquisitions
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0919
Simon Kirby
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0498
Alessandra Modiano
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 3962 4346
Will Davies
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 3962 4355
Fern Warriner
Associate Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0905
Pia Sophie Biasi
Director – Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Tiarna-Jayne Freeman Lewis
Executive Assistant to Head of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0906
Sofia Alemagna
Senior Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 3962 4347
Alexandra Bailey
Sales Administrator to Oliver Miro
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 3962 4344
India Cawley-Gelling
Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0429
Victor Schagerlund
Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 3962 4356


Erin Manns
Director of Exhibitions - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0) 7780 463 580
Jessica Green
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0) 7957 195 504
Rachel Kent
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0) 7852 751 045
Mary Taylor
Production Director
Direct line: +44 (0) 7950 267 092
Simona Pizzi
Artist Projects Director
Direct line: +44 (0) 7848 006 894
Imogen Sampson
Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0) 7572 724 115
Virginia Sirena
Exhibitions Associate
Direct line: +44 (0) 7950 267 246
Julia Oborne
Digital & Exhibitions – Vortic Exhibition Associate
Direct line: +44 (0) 7883 702 323


Kathy Stephenson
Director of Communications
Direct line: +44 (0) 7803 611 186
Martin Coomer
Head of Editorial and Digital Content
Direct line: +44 (0) 7930 490 411
Marisa J. Futernick
Digital and Social Media Consultant
Direct line: +1 (860) 549 2576
Bea Bradley
Photography, Rights & Reproduction Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 7957 787 866
Aimee Blow
Design and Communications Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109


Robert Holzberger
Director of Operations
Direct line: +44 (0) 7986 580 363
Photini Pavlidis
Senior Facilities and IT Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0914
Olivia Singh
Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7549 0493
Libby Tyler
Front of House Supervisor
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0912
Vicky Polakovic
Front of House and Events Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0913
Mary Eleanor McNicholas
Art Fair Coordinator
Direct line: +44 (0) 7896 548 233
Clare Rowe
Paper Archive and Records Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Philip Ewe
Library Coordinator and Archive Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Adeline Guy
Registrar Director - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0) 7490 237 709
Jayne Archard
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0) 7496 865 055
Alice Panton
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0) 7852 751 046
Emer Bermingham
Senior Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0) 7984 073 772
Fiona Holdsworth
Assistant Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Amelia Power
Assistant Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7324 0901

Technical Services

David Wood
Technical Director, Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Jon Glazier
Head Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Martin Fletcher
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Jonny Winter
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Rob Phillips
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109
Ross Taylor
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109


Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7336 8109