Catherine Yass

Catherine Yass Profile Picture
Catherine Yass UCA Profile

Professorial Fellow

Catherine Yass (b. London, UK, 1963) is best known for her distinctive photographic and film-based work. Yass trained at the Slade School of Art, London, at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin; and at Goldsmiths College, London.

Yass typically manipulates her subject matter by overlaying a cross processed negative and a positive transparency, exhibiting them as light-box prints to emphasise the colours and as a reference to photography’s contingency upon light. In much of her practice, Yass concentrates on interiors landscapes as states of mind, such as Corridors (1994) a series made in a psychiatric hospital, and Lighthouse (2012) where the sun is inverted into an inward looking eye.

Alongside her still photography, Catherine Yass’s short films generate unsettling new perspectives on the urban environment, capturing familiar sights from unusual vantage points. The work is disorientating, questioning the point of view through strategies such as inverting the image, placing the camera on moving objects, plunging it underwater, sending it into the air or burying it under falling rubble. In a response to modern architecture the films explore the collusion between film and architecture to reinforce institutional ideologies. Many of the buildings in Yass’s films are undergoing construction or demolition, some are falling into disrepair: remnants or harbingers of power and control.

Catherine Yass (b. London, UK, 1963) lives and works in London and trained at the Slade School of Art, London; the Hochschüle der Künst, Berlin; and Goldsmiths College, London. In 2002, Yass was shortlisted for The Turner Prize, and received the Glenn Dimplex prize for photography in 1999. Solo exhibitions and screenings include Aeolian Piano at RIBA (2018); Lighthouse at Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2012); a mid- career retrospective at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2011); Flight, The Phillips Collections, Washington D.C.; The China Series, Stedelijk-Hertogenbosch Museum, The Netherlands (2009); Descent, St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, MO (2009).

Group shows include The Architecture of London, Guidhall Gallery (2019); Living with Buildings, Wellcome Foundation (2018); Precarious Balance, Centre of Contemporary Arts, New Zealand (2016); Work, Rest, Play: British Photography from 1960’s to Today, curated by The Photographer’s Gallery, London, Mingsheng Arts Museum, Shanghai (touring) (2015); How to construct a time machine, Milton Keynes Gallery (2014); MART Museum, Rovereto, Italy (2014); Mumok, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2014); Cultural Cartographies, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, USA (2014); Tribute to an Avenue, Sculpture International Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014); Walk on: From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff – 40 Years of Walking, Plymouth, UK (2014); Fluid Motion, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, USA (2013); Government Art Collection, Revealed, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Ireland (2013); 13th Montreal Photo Biennale (2013) Desire Lines, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2012); Government Art Collection: Commissions: Now and Then, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012); The World in London, Photographer’s Gallery, London (2012); Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); and High Wire, Tate Britain, London (2012).

Major commissions include Royal London, Wellcome Foundation (2018); Aeolian Piano, commissioned by White Noise for the departure of the BBC for the BBC TVCentre (2017); Decommissioned,The Jewish Community Centre, London (2013); Rambert Dance Company, London (2013); Lighthouse, De La Warr Pavilion (2011); High Wire, Artangel

(2008) and Split Sides, Merce Cunningham, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York (2003). Yass spent five weeks in China on a British Council residency, where she made Lock (2006), which was filmed at the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River.

In 2002, Yass was shortlisted for The Turner Prize. She also represented the UK at the 10th Indian Triennial, 2001, and won the Glenn Dimplex Photography prize in 1999.

Her work features in a number of important collections worldwide including Tate, London; Arts Council of England, The British Council and the Government Art Collection, London; MoMA, New York; The Jewish Museum, New York; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts Collection, Washington DC.

Recent publications include The Roundel:100 Artists Remake a London Icon. Art on the Underground (2016); Work, Rest and Play. British Photography from the 1960’s to Today, The Photographer’s Gallery (2015);Why does it not have to be in Focus? Julie Higgins, Thames and Hudson, UK (2013); Sanctuary: Britain’s Artists and their Studios, Thames and Hudson (2012); The Mechanical Hand. Artists’ Projects at Pauper’s Press, Black Dog Publishing (2012);100 Video Artists, Exit Publicaciones, Madrid (2009); A Manual For The 21st Century Art Institution, The Whitechapel, London (2009); Catherine Yass High Wire, published by Artangel and Glasgow international Festival of Contemporary Visual Art (2008).