≡ John Brill’s Lynchian Universe in photographs ≡

9de7fc28bff17e6578737ad7495fa0ceJohn Brill, Self-portrait, Chihuanhuan Desert, Mexico,1987 (1987-A), printed 2013
Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish
.

20130428035454-Brill_Trish_20130John Brill, Trish, 2013. Still from video. VHS tape; eight hours.

0f7879ea7f49a6c96aba4cb7280e16cbHypnotherapy-Install2DSC04217Every Boy’s Dream, 2013. Installation views.

John Brill’s faux spirit-photographs are enough to make you believe in ghosts, extraterrestrials and visitations of all kinds. Mr. Brill, who is 49 and is having his third solo show at Kent, is a consummate manipulator of the photographic process, a wizard of the darkroom. Starting out with normal photographs of family and friends (and, it seems, the occasional household pet), he comes up with images that are anything but. He works primarily with selenium- or sulfide-toned silver prints.

The figures and faces, shining orbs and dark silhouettes, phantasms and nebulae that drift through the smoky atmospheres of these images evoke all kinds of encounters, many of them on the creepy side. They include unhappy spirits, amorphous apparitions, unearthed skeletons or mummies from the nearest crypt, evidence of long-ago crimes, ethnographic photographs of shamanistic rites or powerful amulets, surveillance photographs, even U.F.O.’s. The associations are helped by titles like ”Emanations,” ”Trance” and ”Childhood Dreams.”

If all this sounds a little melodramatic, it is. It helps that one can sometimes make out the laughing relative or family portrait that was the photograph’s original subject. Still, these images are often touchingly beautiful. They remind us that because photographs can render the most exact truths, they can also tell the biggest lies. They put one in touch with the intermittent need to believe that, one way or another, we are not alone. ROBERTA SMITH .” text by Roberta Smith. Published: April 14, 2000 in the NYT.

085b2affee7c0ba5d746e582eef78925John Brill, untitled (SX_103) [from a series in progress, Accidental Diary]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

b341524bcdd456ba533d7db031b926beJohn Brill, untitled (625-22) [from a series in progress, Hypnagogy]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

50f71bc73bc9ec5f09ded8bbca377940John Brill, Bad Memory #1, 2004-06. Selenium toned gelatin silver print, edition of 10.

ea01d7a7941f0d6af4bcea3402bf9306John Brill, Endless Summer installation, 2002.

≡ the Photographer & the Archive ≡

I

mystery-man-photobooth-collection3445 Portraits of a man. More about the work HERE.

photoboothcartejeune1993detailKatherine Griffiths, Photobooth Project, since 1973. More about the work HERE.

II

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Arianna Arcara & Luca Sanese, Found photos in Detroit 2009-2010.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine.

For the past three years, collector Thomas Sauvin (French, b.1983) has visited a Beijing recycling center each month and purchased color negatives for the value of the silver they contain, effectively rescuing discarded filmstrips from being melted down for silver nitrate. To date Sauvin has accumulated over a half a million photographic color negatives and has obsessively digitized each one to create an archive. The images are mostly snapshots taken by unknown photographers that were made within a twenty-year period – from the early 1980s when 35 mm color film became popular in China to the early 2000s, as consumer digital camera became ubiquitous—and thus Beijing Silvermine can be read as a unique portrait of China’s capital city from the end of the Cultural Revolution to the country’s rise in the global economy.” excerpt from the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Simon Menner, Images from the Secret Stasi Archives or: what does Big Brother see, while he is watching?

Berlin-based artist Simon Menner (German, b. 1978) also worked with highly sensitive and controversial materials when he researched the archives of the former German Democratic Republic’s State Security Service (STASI). This archive was made public, with certain limitations, after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Known to be one of the most effective Cold War surveillance apparatuses, the STASI had more agents, proportionally to its country’s population, than either the CIA or KGB. Menner has reproduced select pictures from the archive and in a similar fashion to Sauvin, catalogues the images into varied groupings..” excerpt from the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

NSW Police Forensic Archive. Mugshots, 1912 – 1930.

If the subjects felt resentment at having their photographs taken, they mostly withheld even that feeling: one senses in the photographs an unwillingness to “communicate” with the photographic apparatus at all, a non-complying passivity, a refusal by the subjects to “let anything show”. The strict partitioning of the negatives into two or three views — face on, side on, full length — replicated the physical and psychic containment of their subjects. Encountering these images in large numbers, the truisms about the repressiveness and cruelty of the surveilling gaze, the charge that photography is inherently authoritarian and thanatotic became pointedly apposite.” excerpt from Peter Doyle’s essay Public eye, private eye: Sydney police mug shots, 1912-1930.

III

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gerhard Richter (b.Germany, 1932), Atlas, 1962 – 2013.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Walid Raad (b.Lebanon 1967), Atlas Group.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hans Peter Feldman, (b.Germany, 1941), various works.

IV

Francis Alÿs, (b.Belgium, 1959), Sleepers II, 2001. 80 slide carousel projection.

km9Duarte Belo, (b.Lisbon, 1968).

V

Steve McQueen (b.UK, 1969), For Queen and Country, 2006-07. 98 framed sheets of facsimile stamps in a wooden cabinet.

VI

Akram Zaatari, (b.Lebanon, 1966), Dance to the End of Love, 2011.

David Oresick (b.EUA, 1984), Soldiers in their youth.

VII

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tacita Dean (b.UK, 1965), The Russian Ending, 2001.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mathilde ter Heijnen (b.France, 1969), Woman to Go, 2005-ongoing. Installation with postcard display (postcards can be taken for free), 2001.

VIII

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Duane Michals (b.EUA, 1932), Deja Vu, 2012. Tintype with hand-applied oil paint.

IX

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yaron Lapid, (b.Israel, 1974), Partial Moments.

X

⁞ How Kalen Hollomon’s collages reflect the general confusion about the core of a subversive attitude ⁞

Trying to make a point with digital cut and paste, here are excerpts of reviews and interviews with collage artist Kalen Hollomon, accompanied by images of his playful work.

kh3© Kalen Hollomon

kh1© Kalen Hollomon

NYMAG: […] Hollomon claims it’s been “embarrassing” to take the iPhone photos that garner him thousands of likes each day and says he’s not interested in deconstructing materialism — “I love the price of things!” Instead, he seeks to create “sexy, but unsettling” combinations of men and women. […]


Alex Ronan: What is it about high fashion interests you?


Kalen Hollomon: I get to force the collaboration that happens between the designer and the person wearing the clothes. I used a photograph of a homeless man, gave him a pair of heels, and added the world Chanel. Suddenly, the guy looked fabulous. That’s what fashion does.

kh2© Kalen Hollomon

DAZED: The unorthodox and taboo are thoroughly explored through New York-based artist Kalen Hollomon’s tongue-in-cheek collages, which seek to blur the boundaries of prefixed homogenisation permeating our society. Hollomon’s subjects range from subway riders juxtaposed with clippings of cut out nudes and unassuming street-goers superimposed onto Celine, Prada and Chanel advertising, which sell for $300 a piece. “I am always concerned with what lies beneath the surface – with relativity, perception, sexuality and pop culture,” says Hollomon. “My images are reality manipulation, manipulating other people’s identities. The idea of and ability to alter the value or meaning of an image or object by adding or subtracting elements is really exciting to me – adding or taking away elements from something until it becomes the sexiest it can be at that moment.” […]

Kalen-Hollomon-Collage-16© Kalen Hollomon

THE EDITORIAL MAGAZINE: Kalen Hollomon (@kalen_hollomon) is taking collage to New York City’s streets and its underground, superimposing clippings from fashion and vintage porno magazines onto unsuspecting subway riders and mundane city scenes. […] It’s clear that many of the people don’t even notice they are getting their picture taken – who can really tell the difference between someone snapping a pic or playing candy crush during their commute? It’s that candidness that lends these images their power, and by mixing in collage, Hollomon adds a surreal wit to this new genre of social-documentary photography. His photos are really funny, especially the ones where he superimposes naked butts onto unassuming pedestrians, creating the same simple absurdity as that Kids in The Hall “Headcrusher” skit where Mark McKinney squints his eye and squishes people’s heads between his thumb and forefinger. […]


Whitney Mallett: But you’re both remixing fashion imagery in a way [reference to Joel Kyack]. Do you see collage as having a radical or disruptive potential?


Kalen Hollomon: I try to create something that looks beautiful. You can create a powerful image that at first looks nice and maybe is a bit funny but if you look a bit deeper, it also might have something more to say than that. And to make someone question like, why they find it attractive, for them to say, “this looks great but wait it’s weird, I shouldn’t think this looks attractive, but I do.”

kalen6© Kalen Hollomon

kalen-holloman-051© Kalen Hollomon

COMPLEX: […] Collage artist Kalen Hollomon is not only able to sell his work on Instagram, he’s used the platform to build a community of engaged fans and get covetable commissions. This year, he’s Capsule New York’s Spring/Summer 2015 featured artist, where he gets to employ his signature style of uniting vintage fashion advertisements, porn from the ’80s and ’90s, and found photography. […]


Cedar Pasori: What intrigues you about combining the past and the present with your art?


Kalen Hollomon: It’s the potential to alter perspective or perception of both the past and the present. If it was sexy then, it’s sexy now. There’s maybe a different presentation, but there’s still that feeling, and it’s exciting to see past and present interact with each other.
[…]


Cedar Pasori: In drawing out “what’s beneath the surface” with your work, how do you aim to do this with men’s style and masculinity, specifically?


Kalen Hollomon: I try to celebrate masculinity and at the same time make it sexy in a feminine way — a type of non-aggressive masculine sexuality. I’m attracted to achieving this with minimal changes, something as simple as putting a pair of heels on a gentlemen; that can really change the vibe of an image.

10607968_298795413633933_547278544_n© Kalen Hollomon

THE STANDARD: […] Hollomon’s is a brilliant and timely innovation, one that seamlessly merges high and low to maximum WTF effect, and subversively undermines our ordered sense of reality. Seemingly effortless, a closer look reveals a methodical, canny eye for composition, a surrealist bent, and a cutting wit. The result has been a steady buzz in both the Art and Fashion worlds, and 70,000+ followers who get a kick out of his trickery. […]

٠ featuring: ‘Finder and Keeper: a Conversation Between Rotem Rozental and Yaron Lapid’ ٠

This is not one of my usual posts. In conversation with Rotem Rozental, the editor of the Shpilman Institute for Photography blog, she suggested I should take a look at a couple of her posts and that’s how I came to encounter Yaron Lapid‘s work. Featured here is Rotem’s conversation with him, along with images from his work.

07© Yaron Lapid, Not only England, but every Englishman (is an island), from Original stories from real life

Rotem Rozental: Let’s start where our last meeting ended: it was in Jerusalem, and you talked about the reason for you being there and how the experience of returning to the city affected you. Can you describe what you were doing there and share that experience?

I also wonder how this complexity became an active participant in your work. It seems Jerusalem and her conflicts influenced your works at various junctures. You began your career as an artist there, as a student in Bezalel Academy. I’m wondering if this complex city became an active participant in your work and how your first years there influenced your critical approach?

Yaron Lapid: We met in Jerusalem last, and you would be right in saying the mixture of extremes in the city fascinates me. Perhaps it has to do with my biography. I grew up in a religious family, although I had a strong science-based education, with all the inherent contradictions that entails. I went on to travel in South-East Asia for three years. On my return Jerusalem was the only place that could offer the complexity I sought.

As a former religious boy with an interest in science, nothing was further from my thoughts than the arts, except literature. This might be why it was easier for me to pick up a camera, which I first did to try and capture my experiences. I stumbled upon the art world and found that it allowed me to engage in storytelling, which is a central element in my practice. Some of my works could be considered a piece of a story, like You Have not Found his Riddle and, I think in all my works, even the more abstract ones, a narrative is implied through the connections I create.

Jerusalem was, of course, full of stories. I lived there for six years including the mad times just before the Millennium, when the city was buzzing with religious highs and anxieties that permeated down to street level. Night Meter is a work from the end of 1999, made as a response to that time.

yaron© Yaron Lapid, still from the video work You Have Not Found His Riddle (left); still from the video work Night Meter (right)

I also lived in Jerusalem during the bloody years of 2001-2003, where as students we were either doing blatantly political work, or work that was completely escapist. I have always felt the need to deal with what is directly in front of me, but I felt that “the conflict” was molded in such a finite way. I didn’t want to limit myself to the immediate political situation but rather was interested in the broader human landscape, which inevitably includes political content. The more conceptual type of work interested me less; I wanted to make work that one has to experience with its value rooted in the finished piece, not only in the artistic idea.

RR: To continue with the theme of context and location, let’s discuss the project The New Zero. Ayesha Hameed writes about the alternative documentation of the city that these found images might suggest to you and the viewer. I was wondering about your role here, first as the collector of the images and then as archivist: utilizing technology to intervene in private, lost histories, while manipulating the images themselves.

YL: In part, The New Zero was created as a response to the impossible contradiction that Jerusalem signifies for me. The piece satisfies my attraction to the found, the abandoned and the cast aside. The images are simple yet beautiful and touching, and in my interference I tried to echo the frustration and fascination of living in Jerusalem at the time: a place where history is unfolding before your eyes.

Image-379-in-The-New-Zero1© Yaron Lapid, from The New Zero

Although my website is called Finder & Keeper, I am of course also a manipulator. I see the documentary as an art form, through which an aspect of reality is conveyed, but like Werner Herzog says, facts per se do not constitute truth, otherwise the Manhattan phone directory would be the book of books.

Francis Bacon says “You can see an advertisement, you can see something lying in the street.” I see people lying in the street, but also advertisements interest me as an artist, in an attempt to figure and mediate reality. I would like to reflect an inner truth, one that doesn’t rely upon the surface, yet is connected to quotidian reality.

RR: How did your interest in English family archives develop and how do you approach such intimate, private material?

YL: History is a slippery process, which is hard to pin down in the present. The photographic archive is a great source of visual knowledge, although I am not interested in nostalgia, but rather the similarities and differences between times, and the reasons and effects of that. It is not only images I find and use; other human footprints could be utilized to reveal something about a time, a place and a person. Full. Stop. is made of two flyers found in the streets of my neighborhood, and is titled after the anonymous writer’s preference with punctuation.

RR: So now your work is in constant dialogue with and is invested in a very different urbanscape, which necessitates a different viewpoint. I was wondering about the relationship between your status as an immigrant in London and an artist in a new surrounding, and your critical view of that surrounding as it is conveyed in your work. I am thinking, for instance, about your exhibition at Alfred Gallery in Tel Aviv, where these works, in a sense, also “immigrated” out of their original context.

YL: Living in London has changed both my life and my practice. I see parallels between photography and being an immigrant. A photographer is a person who distances him or herself by using the lens as medium, like Perlov’s soup dilemma  – to eat it or to film it. In that sense, a photographer is somewhat of an immigrant: half here, half existing a different context – through the prism of another culture or through the edit.

London is not an easy place for an immigrant, especially not an Israeli one. I am not like any other “ethnic minority” in this cosmopolitan city. Some regard Israel, with some justification, as a problematic country, although often their understanding of the situation is poor.

Some of this is reflected in the Alfred show which was centered on family. The family I see in London is quite different to the one I know from Israel. The show was composed of works I found as part of my research, when I started working with found photos from Britain. My interest in images of British lives also derives from the insight it gave me into family moments, in a society where separation between inside and out is very present. One of the resulting works is Partial moments from which the SIP image is taken.

06© Yaron Lapid, from Partial Moments

[…]

RR: Your camera also finds its way to other private spheres. I was surprised by the intimate nature of your work in the series Dad and I taking each other after Mum Died. Beyond the traumatic experience, the physical comparison between yours and your father’s bodies (the naked torsos, the beards) is striking. The two of you seem to be unified by pain, limited by it and by the dense physicality of the neutral space. However, you were also divided as soon as each of you assumed the photographer’s position, documenting the other.

YL: Yes, this is probably my most personal work to date, and the mental process you have gone through is the one I hoped for. On top of the raw emotions in the images and the reference to my mother’s death, I was also considering the nature of photography: how we look at someone when we take a picture, never the same as someone else will, and really never the same as we have looked at them at any other time before.

Dad-and-I1© Yaron Lapid, from Dad and I taking each other after Mum Died

[…]

RR: What is your next project? What are you working on now?

YL: I am working with footage I shot in Jerusalem, which will hopefully become a movie. I must admit I am a bad artist, in that I do not work as a trained professional is expected to work. At any given moment I have up to ten projects I am playing with. Every now and then – usually late at night – something falls into place and a project gets nearer to completion.

In art school one talks about research subjects as a result of critical thinking, but this is not the case for me. Instead, I would describe my process as finding a set of connections by doing what I need to do, and then gradually, the theoretical framework surfaces. I create work because something draws my attention, and I think about it critically because that is inevitable. Although I am conscious of the critical aspect of my work, what ultimately pushes me to make it is curiosity.

signal-failure1© Yaron Lapid, from Signal Failures

٠ Maurizio Anzeri and the problem with labelling and expectations ٠

maurizio_anzeri_rebecca© Maurizio Anzeri, Rebecca, 2009

20110701033135_maurizio_anzeri_Rita300© Maurizio Anzeri, Rita, 2011

I came across Maurizio’s work through an unusual root – Bric-à-brac -, a section of the electronic journal Sans Soleil, specialized in issues related to Art Brut and self-taught art. Not only because of that but also (1) because embroidery is a very common medium within the world of art brut, and (2) because it is also fairly common to encounter appropriations of portraits that authors then re-work – in a sort of manifestation of the complexity of any identity notion or even as a symbolic expression of transcendental ego features -, I “was lead” to believe that Maurizio was not an academically trained artist, nor was he in a conventional circuit.

Anyway, my instinctual mode of association came into place and I found myself thinking of spontaneous art. It was only when I looked for more of Maurizio’s work on the internet that I realized it was framed in a completely different world, though that didn’t change the fact that I really enjoy his embroidery work. The problems that arose have little to do with the work itself, instead they pertain to the artist and the machine around him, which he is undoubtedly responsible for. There’s no sign of bad faith in Maurizio’s statement about his work. In fact, he meets my expectations, in part created by the qualities of the work itself, and speaks of something alike affective labor: “I work with sewing, embroidery and drawing to explore the essence of signs in their physical manifestation. I take inspiration from my own personal experience and observation of how, in other cultures, bodies themselves are treated as living graphic symbols. I then use sewing and embroidery in a further attempt to re-signify, and mark the space with a man-made sign, a trace. The intimate human action of embroidery is a ritual of making and reshaping stories and history of these people. I am interested in the relation between intimacy and the outer world.”

There is no denying that his work is sculptural. I don’t understand the need to label it as photographic, since the photographs are either found, archival or collected in flea markets and the medium that defines his artistry is embroidery, not photography. While googling for his work I came across a description in Vitrine Gallery where it says that Maurizio invent[ed] the term: ‘photo-sculpture’ and I can’t help but laugh. I don’t know who’s responsible for this slip or if this is just bad marketing, but it doesn’t help him in anyway to “sell” him as a surrealist or an avant-garde artist from the 70’s, especially because he was born in Italy in 1969 which would lead to biographic discrepancies.

20-maurizio-anzeri-zelda-1941_2009© Maurizio Anzeri, Zelda, 2009

Maurizio Anzeri's La Famiglia (2013)© Maurizio Anzeri, A stitch in time… La Famiglia, 2013

Tri-dimensional photography, collages, photo-montages and so on, are part of the history of contemporary photography. With surrealism, dadaism and constructivism these techniques were already building their one symbolic field but with the advent of digital photography there was a new boom. The nostalgia, nothingness and apathy that led artists to turn to archives (not only but also) as a way to react to digital manipulation and bring back analogue deconstruction of the one-layered idea that photography is an amalgamate of signs that “were really there”, also sprouted the discussion about the photographic support and its potential to be something else.

Questions about what defines one’s identity in the 21st century merged with questions about what defines the photographic medium and with it portraiture gained a new light. There are several examples of collages, montages and embroidered portraits, most of them recognized and awarded in the last few years and I’ve been posting some of them here – an example is Julie Cockburn. This is the ground Maurizio walks on. There is not a single problem with not having invented the wheel. This lack of originality doesn’t define the work in absolute, only in relation to its culture. In an intimate relation, the work is free to become whatever one needs it to be. The problem is with lying and bad faith, which ruins expectations of an authentic creation.

Sean O’Hagan, from the Guardian, states Anzeri creates something new and surprising by applying an old-fashioned craft to old-fashioned artefacts. I keep questioning the need to adjectivize this as new, specially since the works-of-art are good enough on their own without the help of ‘new-technological’ or ‘ground-breaking’ add. There are also other descriptions which, without being false, are just over embellished – there are far too many adjectives and no critic of the art on display. It’s part of the problem with art criticism in general, too complex, so let’s see another example.

maurizio_anzeri_roundmidnight© Maurizio Anzeri, Round Midnight, 2009

I can’t say who worte it, for there is no signature, but in Maurizio’s portfolio in The Saatchi Gallery one can read that Anzeri’s delicately stitched veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation’s cross-cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own. My problem with this sort of statement is that it is pretentious and naïf at the same time: it is arrogant to the point that it suggests that what the work communicates should be contained (within a subject and its culture); and it is ingenuous in the sense that it presupposes that there is one understanding for the notion of ‘cross-cultural anxieties’, which means the spectator bust be either the colonizer or the colonized.

I’ll finish with another of Maurizio’s statement, since they are the most honest to his work: “I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.

text by Sofia Silva

┐ Eiffel Chong └

016015013© Eiffel Chong, Untitled, from the series Royal Malaysia Police

“I came across an abandoned police station and found identity photographs of the police personnel being scattered around. Most of them still look good, except for a layer of dust on top of the photographs. However, there were some that have been destroyed by the harsh weather in Malaysia. I found them to be interesting. Some look uncanny. It made me wonder why would these photographs being abandoned seeing that they are photographs used for identification.


Looking at these photographs, it reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s fiction ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’. The photographs had aged. It serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon its soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement, or through a sign of aging.


Royal Malaysia Police is a series of work about re-photographing the identity photographs of the police personnel.” Eiffel’s statement

More of Eiffel’s work here

┐ Christian Boltanski – death from within └

5498496647_85c3f87a4d_o© Christian Boltanski, Odessa Monument, 1991. Four gelatin silver prints, lights and wiring

“Since the late 1960s, Christian Boltanski (b. 1944, Paris) has worked with photographs collected from ordinary and often ephemeral sources, endowing the commonplace with significance. Rather than taking original photographs to use in his installations, he often finds and rephotographs everyday documents—passport photographs, school portraits, newspaper pictures, and family albums—to memorialize everyday people. Boltanski seeks to create an art that is indistinguishable from life and has said, The fascinating moment for me is when the spectator hasn’t registered the art connection, and the longer I can delay this association the better. By appropriating mementos of other people’s lives and placing them in an art context, Boltanski explores the power of photography to transcend individual identity and to function instead as a witness to collective rituals and shared cultural memories.”

2© Christian Boltanski, Sans Fin, part of installation showed in the 54th Venice Biennial

1© Christian Boltanski, Dog in the street, 1991. Installation, Photograph, gelatin silver photograph, lamp, biscuit box and electrical wires

“While the particular images in this installation represent children and the family dog at play, there is a brooding sadness and sense of threat which suggests that fear of loss which accompanies all our joys. The black-and-white photos are taken from, or simulate, old family snaps and sometimes news-paper images. This style is deliberate: the black-and-white prints feel like a literal trace in a way that colour plates and digital images do not. We seem to be able to sense the process embedded in the materiality of the print that is created when light falls onto silver nitrate and changes its chemical structure. In this way the light that ‘touches’ the object also touches the print. Because of this intimate process, the photo of a loved one is more than a likeness; it is a relic of their having once been there in front of the camera. This process is further enhanced by the dim reading lamp which is attached to a frame and by the old biscuit tin below each photo which suggests the collections of memorabilia that most of us have in some cupboard or shed.2 The boxes in this installation contain snapshots of the families represented in the larger photographs. The effect also suggests the use of photos in ‘ex votos’ and memorials to the departed. (…) Boltanski plays upon the ambiguity of photography and memory by presenting these found photo-graphs from family albums or archives. In re-photographing them he further degrades the likeness and enhances the feeling of distance in time from the event. He exploits our predisposition to accept the authenticity of old black-and-white images as actual records of events yet presents them with deliberate theatrical effect. The atmosphere he creates is like that of a shrine in a cathedral or mausoleum, but it does not feel like mock religiosity – it is more personal than that and at the same time has broader cultural associations.”

docclick image to see a documentary about Christian’s life and work, in UBUWEB