Tag Archives: Photographic Process

Helen Sear

Helen Sear has two new series, never seen in the United States, currently on exhibition through October 26th at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn: Sightlines and Pastoral Monuments.  The work follows a thread of her earlier projects, Beyond the View and Inside the View, where the artist is considering concept, photographic process, historical reference, and visual seduction.  I am sharing two images from her earlier work to understand her visual progression.

 ©Helen Sear, Beyond the View, No. 6, 2007
©Helen Sear, Inside the View, No. 5, 2007

Helen’s photographic practice has developed from a fine art background of performance, film and installation work made in the 1980’s. Her photographs became widely known in the 1991 British Council exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain, which toured Latin America and Eastern Europe. Her work is included in Face—The New Photographic Portrait (Thames & Hudson) and has been featured in several publications including Arts Review, Hotshoe, Guardian Review, Art Newspaper, Portfolio, Aperture and Arts Monthly amongst others. Her artworks are represented in several notable public and private collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Ernst & Young, British Council (Rome), Paul Wilson Collection and Virgin Communications Collection. In 2010 Helen Sear was awarded the prestigious Major Creative Wales Award and more recently, the National Eisteddford of Wales 2011 Gold Medal for Fine Art.


Sightlines is partially concerned withideas about the unique object and the copy. The images themselves depict a portrait of a woman whose face is obscured by a mass-produced, but hand-painted figurine of a bird. Sear alters the final photograph through the application of several layers of white primer—gesso. The images, then, are also about photographing paint and painting photographs. This convergence of the unique and/or the copy is further implicated by notions of her concern with identity. Through obscuring the face of the woman, Sear interrupts the gaze of both sitter and observer. The spectator of the photograph is unable to know the sitter’s identity, in a similar way that she/he can’t know the
identity of the person(s) who hand-painted the bird.

 
Sightlines, Untitled 16 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
 Sightlines, Untitled 2 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 Sightlines, Untitled 20 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 Sightlines, Untitled 21 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery  
 Sightlines, Untitled 4 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
 Sightlines, Untitled 6 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
Images from Pastoral Monuments

Pastoral Monuments, expands an underlying theme of the real and the re-presentation of it. In this case, Sear references the historical photographs of the botanist and photographer, Mary Dillwyn, whose photographs from the early 1850’s depicted wild flowers arranged in domestic crockery. Sear has sourced more than 80 wild flowers from the same Welsh field and photographed them in jugs and vases from around the world. Through handling the resulting prints and rephotographing them—evidencing this handling—Sear believes that “the flowers and their containers become connected in a material sense, across the surface of the image.” Further, we see in the photographs familiar ideas associated with flowers—youth, beauty and mortality. In some ways, these photographs become monuments to flowers.

 Pastoral Monument 1, Myosotis Arvensis ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 

Pastoral Monument 5, Angelica Atropurpurea ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery 
 Pastoral Monument 6, Daucus Carota ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

Pastoral Monument 9, Malva Sylvestris ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

Rafael Arocha

All images © Rafael Arocha

“Photography keeps me alert,” writes Rafael Arocha by way of introduction to his project entitled Midnight. “The photographic process allows me to critically and creatively understand, and get closer to different situations, feelings and people, learning more about my own thoughts and inner emotions. I believe this process allows the photographer to discover and connect with his/her obsessions, doubts, intellect and memory.”
With more than a whiff of Anders Petersen, this imagery plumbs the heart of grimness. Alive to the presence of human flesh, it looks at the relationship between instinct and desire, where night time is the stage set on which courtship becomes ritualistic. Filtered through his uncompromising lens are scenes, incidents and gestures that become transformed into things of profound and often awkward beauty.
“Midnight refers to a fleeting moment,” Arocha goes on to explain, “a line that divides one moment in time from another. It is then that a transformation happens, a metamorphosis, and an instinctive drive, from deep within, offers us the opportunity to show ourselves as less ordinary. Things happen, sometimes unnoticed, which reflect our own obsessions or fantasies. Non-verbal codes are used to communicate, and once interpreted, they become intimate longing and desire.”
Rafael Arocha was born in 1978, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Click here to view more work from the series. To learn about his practice visit www.rafaelarocha.com

Photo Show – Helen Sears Sightlines and Pastoral Monuments on show at Klompching Gallery New York

© Helen Sear, Sightlines, Untitled 4, 2011. Archival Pigment Print with Acrylic Gesso 7.25” x 7.25”, Edition of 3. From $2,000

© Helen Sear, Pastoral Monument 11, Fumaria Bastardi, 2012, Archival Pigment Print, 27.5” x 27.5”, Edition of 3 + 2 AP’s (AP1 nfs). From $3,000.

 SIGHTLINES AND PASTORAL MOMENTS
The third solo exhibition of new artworks by the British photographer Helen Sear is on until 26 October at the Klompching Gallery in New York. Two new series will be presented as the gallery’s opening exhibition for the 2012–2013 season, accompanied by the US launch of the monograph charting a more than 25-year practice.

“Sightlines and Pastoral Monuments continue Sear’s commitment to conceptual applications, integration of photographic process, historical reference and visual allure. Sightlines is an exquisite set of 21 photographs, partially concerned with ideas about the unique object and the copy. The images themselves depict a portrait of a woman whose face is obscured by a mass-produced, but hand-painted figurine of a bird. Sear alters the final photograph through the application of several layers of white primer—gesso.

“The images, then, are also about photographing paint and painting photographs. This convergence of the unique and/or the copy is further implicated by notions of her concern with identity.obscuring the face of the woman, Sear interrupts the gaze of both sitter and observer. The spectator of the photograph is unable to know the sitter’s identity, in a similar way that she/he can’t know the identity of the person(s) who hand-painted the bird. These small-scale photographs confound our expectations in the most delightful way, and are a testimony to the conceptual and visual strength of Sear’s practice.

“Showing alongside Sightlines, is Pastoral Monuments, which expands an underlying theme of the real and the re-presentation of it. In this case, Sear references the historical photographs of the botanist and photographer, Mary Dillwyn, whose photographs from the early 1850’s depicted wild flowers arranged in domestic crockery. Sear has sourced more than 80 wild flowers from the same Welsh field and photographed them in jugs and vases from around the world.

“Through handling the resulting prints and rephotographing them—evidencing this handling—Sear believes that “the flowers and their containers become connected in a material sense, across the surface of the image.” Further, we see in the photographs familiar ideas associated with flowers—youth, beauty and mortality. In some ways, these photographs become monuments to flowers.” Press release.

Filed under: Art shows, Photography Shows, Visual Artists, Women Photographers Tagged: Helen Sears, New York, Pastoral Monuments, Sightlines

Marco Breuer: Condition

Footage from the opening reception at Von Lintel Gallery. Courtesy NYC Gallery Openings.

Marco Breuer, otherwise known as the “photographer without a camera,” has built a strong reputation over the course of the last 20 years exploring lens-less “photogenic” art. While many photographers today are employing more and more complex technology in their work, the German conceptual artist and 2006 Guggenheim fellow says his is an “ongoing attempt to strip down the photographic process, to remove the distractions of equipment, and to force imagery out of photographic paper itself.”

His latest solo exhibition Condition (on view at Von Lintel Gallery through June 23, 2012) presents work he made in and out of the darkroom, stressing photographic paper by exposing it to heat, light, and physical abrasion with “coal, sandpaper, heat guns, burning swaths of cotton, electric frying pans, and other unexpected objects,” as one interviewer catalogues.

Ranging from small photographic sketches, to larger 30 by 40-inch prints, “every individual piece constitutes a search, a move away from the given, a test of the materials’ limits,” the press release states. He fuses image and medium, “rendering them inseparable, one and the same.”

In 2007, Aperture published his monograph Early Recordings, the first comprehensive look at his boldly experimental work, alongside a limited edition slip-cased book which comes with a unique-to-each-edition Polaroid print. His work is also featured in Lyle Rexer’s sold out book, The Edge of Vision (Aperture 2009).

Read John Yau’s review of Breuer’s solo exhibition on HyperAllergic. View installation shots and photos from the opening reception on May 10, 2012 on the Von Lintel Gallery blog. And read interviews with the artist about his work on ARTLOG and on MPR.

Marco Breuer: Condition
Exhibition on view:
May 10 – June 23, 2012

Von Lintel Gallery
520 West 23 Street
New York, New York 10011
(212) 242-0599

Lomography and the ‘Analogue Future’

Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition of photo-sharing software Instagram on April 9 confirmed that the world wants to take and look at pictures with interesting filters. But artistic manipulation of the photographic process is not new and, contrary to what users might expect, interest in Instagram has had a positive effect in a surprising place: at analog-only photography company Lomography, which has opened 12 new stores just since this past fall and has plans to open two more, in Chicago and Antwerp, in the coming months.

Matthias Fiegl, one of the original founders of the 20-year-old, pinhole- and fisheye-loving, Vienna-based company, recently visited New York City. He sat down with LightBox at the company’s Greenwich Village store— where signs proclaim the “prophecies of the analogue future” and the walls are papered with photographs—to discuss why its competitor’s success is good for business.

“People have tried out filters on Instagram and now they want to do the real thing,” says Fiegl. “We hear that all the time in the shop.”

Lomography started as a way to buy the Russian Lomo cameras that Fiegl and his friends loved, and now sells a variety of cameras, accessories, film, clothing and books. Fiegl says that people are often surprised that the Lomography website sees up to 8,000 images uploaded daily and about 2 million unique visitors each month. It’s a tiny sum compared to sites like Flickr but, Fiegl notes, users tend to be more selective when they need to develop and scan their photos. “Lomography is a niche,” he says. “From that perspective it’s a huge community.”

Lomography

The Diana F+

According to Lomography USA’s general manager Liad Cohen, Lomography benefits from blending online and live communities. Lomography’s website has sharing capabilities, and the stores host photography workshops and exhibitions. One such exhibition is a traveling world tour of a collection of vintage 1960s and ’70s “Diana” cameras (Lomography sells a model) amassed by the award-winning photographer Allan Detrich. The exhibit, which also features camera customizations by local artists at each stop it makes, returns to the U.S. on May 10 and will spend about a month in San Francisco before going on to Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and New York City.

Fiegl theorizes that people who are interested in making art in a novel way want to do something unusual: “The younger the people are, the more they want to do analog,” he says. Lomography once considered selling a digital camera, but a survey of customers revealed that “Lomographers” were more interested in new analog cameras instead. And even if digital filters can achieve Lomography-like looks, Fiegl thinks that users who see themselves as artists, rather than snapshot-sharers, are drawn to his company because it encourages users to keep and come back to older work, whereas the streaming format favored by media platforms like Instagram makes it hard not to just look at what’s most recent.

Even though new customers often have to be taught how to load film and reminded that they can’t see the photos right away, Fiegl says that amateur photographers for whom digital is normal see something appealing in old-fashioned technology—and unlike larger and older photo brands, Lomography has grown alongside digital photography and has not had to struggle to reorient itself in that landscape.

“Maybe the technology is redundant,” says Fiegl, “but it’s opening up new possibilities.”

The Diana World Tour returns to the U.S. on May 10, opening at the Lomography Gallery Store in San Francisco. The show will then travel to Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and New York. Information from past stops the show has made is available here, and more information about Lomography is available here.

Edge of Vision Exhibition Traveling to Oregon

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    Installation shots at Aperture Gallery, New York, 2009 by Elliot Black Photography

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The photographic process is often credited in part with displacing representation from painting, pushing it over the course of the first half of the last century further into the domain of abstraction. The camera was commonly thought to capture and document a supposed objective reality in a way the human hand never could. However, photography itself has also been variously employed for nonrepresentational abstraction since its inception.

From the very first photograms to Aaron Siskind‘s ab-ex alluding macrophotography, to Penelope Umbrico‘s digitally-manipulated found images of “Suns From Flickr,” The Edge of Vision: Abstractions in Contemporary Photography (on view at Schneider Museum of Art in Oregon through June 16, 2012) examines the history of nonrepresentational photographic image-making and its role in contemporary art.

In a two part video interview, independent writer and critic Lyle Rexer, who curated the exhibition and authored the 2009 Aperture-published book by the same title, says he was drawn to artists that “were making pictures that moved away from from an easily identifiable subject, or that complicated the picture or the response that we normal have to pictures, in what is essentially thought of as a denotative medium.”

The traveling exhibition, which has been on view in a number of places around the world, each time in a slightly different iteration, features work by a diverse group of contemporary artists including Bill Armstrong, Carel Balth, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Ellen Carey, Roland Fischer, Michael Flomen, Manuel Geerinck, Edward Mapplethorpe, Penelope Umbrico, Silvio Wolf, and more listed here. For Rexer, he says, bringing this group together and seeing what they have in common is meant to address the following question:

What is it about photography now that makes it possible for us to have artists that  on the one hand do very documentary work, and other artists at the same time, sometimes the same artists, who are also doing work that would qualify as abstract?

For more information on the work on view, be sure to check out the Edge of Vision Video Interview Series, conducted during the installation at Aperture Gallery in 2009, on vimeo:

  • Penelope Umbrico persents her work “For Sale/TV’s From Craigslist,” and explains why she considers herself a documentary photographer, “a traveler through media.”
  • Ellen Carey discusses her large-scale work “Pulls with Lifts and Drops,” film pulled through the rollers of a Polaroid large-format camera, and her color photogram, “PushPins,” exploring how each challenges the viewer to rethink the medium.
  • Barbara Kasten explains her work based on physical constructions that play with light and are created only for the purpose of being photographed. By this approach, the photograph itself becomes the object and is removed from being representative or documentary.
  • Silvio Wolf presents his work which combines straight photography and the unexposed ends of film rolls as negatives exposed to light. The end results are mesmerizing and meditative colorful images about light and absence of light.
  • Bill Armstrong puts in context his “Mandala #450″ piece, explains why he uses blurring as a process and explores his “painterly approach to photography.”
  • Charles Lindsay speaks about how he started working with his unique carbon emulsion process, his inspirations and the combination of his photographic, video and sound works.
  • Seth Lambert contextualizes his work in the show “Nothing on the Bed of an Epson Expression 10000XL” within his Failures series of grids mapping out anything from beard hair, mirror pieces to nothing with a blank scan.
  • Carel Balth explains the process behind his works “Moving IV” and “Madrid V,” and how his appropriation of images through a digital format functions as a new medium.
  • Jack Sal speaks about his piece “Sale/Sala (Salt/Room)” while you watch him installing it.
  • Manuel Geerinck, who started his career as a painter, speaks about his unique process combining his drawings that he then photographs in motion.

Also, watch a panel discussion on Abstraction in Photography from 2009 at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, moderated by Rexer, and read a review of the exhibition when it was on view at Lewis & Clark College in Portland earlier this year, from the Oregonian.

Exhibition on view:
Thursday, May 10 – Saturday, June 16, 2012

$5 Suggested Donation

Schneider Museum of Art
1250 Siskiyou Blvd
Ashland, Oregon
(541) 552-6245

Do Process: Henrieke Strecker

This week I am featuring artists exhibiting in Verve Gallery’s Do Process exhibition, showcasing eight unique approaches to the photographic process.

German photographer, now living in New Hampshire, Henrieke Strecker, is exhibiting Photogravures on handmade paper as well as the Chine-collé process. Her images are of abstract yet familiar forms. She creates her imagery using plants, trees, and landscapes, as well as animal and human figures; the beauty that is her own backyard. Her hand-pulled original prints do not capture “an isolated moment or paint a realistic picture like a report.” Rather, she gives “an account of small movements and atmospheres”, and shares with us what she has experienced within that time.

Photogravures were invented in 1870s. A copper plate is coated with a light sensitive gelatin. The coated copper plate is then put in contact with a positive photographic transparency and exposed to light. The plate is washed to remove unexposed gelatin leaving a hardened gelatin negative. The hardened gelatin negative that remains on the plate is then inked. The inked etched copper plate is printed in the same way as an etching in a copper plate printing press.

Chine-collé is a special printmaking technique that allows an artist to use very delicate paper or linen that allows finer detail to be pulled off the coated copper plate. The finer detailed paper or linen with the image is then transferred or bonded to another surface, a heavier support not unlike a matte, to which the finer paper or linen is attached. This technique allows the artist to print on a much more delicate surface and also to provide a background color behind the image that is different from the surrounding backing matte.

Do Process: Caitlyn Soldan

This week I am featuring artists exhibiting in Verve Gallery’s Do Process exhibition, showcasing eight unique approaches to the photographic process.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Caitlyn Soldan when I was visiting the Verve Gallery. Not only is Caitlyn a gallery assistant, she is the gallery’s Featured Online Artist this month, a category of gallery representation that debuts emerging artists. Caitlyn very kindly shared a variety of the work from the exhibition, pulling from drawers to explain the varied processes used in the work. The images Caitlyn is exhibiting is entitled Thin Veils, using the Mordançage process. In the work, she takes self-portraits using a pinhole camera. Caitlyn takes her cues from Victorian spirit photography – portraits with spirits. Thus, the images in this exhibition are Caitlyn’s visual improvisations of ghosts, spirits, and hauntings. Caitlyn’s work is ethereal, esoteric, and allegorical.

Caitlyn was born in Chicago and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in June 2011 with a BFA in Photography. Her work explores themes of history, memory and time. Caitlyn prefers working with film and alternative processes but also enjoys exploring the possibilities of combining historical processes with new technology. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and France. Caitlyn presently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mordançage is a 20th century process created by Jean-Pierre, which is based on a 19th century process known as bleach-etch. Bleach-etch is a reversal process for film negatives. The process involves stripping away the darkest parts of the emulsion of a silver gelatin print. This image transformation creates a relief, or a raised area on the print. Water is used to float the delicate silver emulsion on the image so as to rearrange it and dry it back down onto the print. The end result is a one-of-a-kind and thus unique photographic image. The artist chose the Mordançage process for this series because it enhances the themes of time, decay, and mortality in her work. The process also gives the images mysterious and otherworldly qualities, separating them from reality.