The exhibition “UTZ” present several recent works of mine, dealing with the history of Photography as a reproduction method and as an object of artistic creation.
Using different techniques, partly obsolete, such as printing with the help of solar light (cyanotype), stereographs and polaroid, and contrasting these with recent ones as inkjet printing and video projection, the exhibition will try do dialogue directly with works by seminal photographers, such as Talbot, Niepce and Man Ray, thus establishing connections with the memory of photography itself as a practice and with the present evolution of the process, from analogue to digital, not only in the moment of capturing, but also afterwards in the printing process of the image.
Among the works to be shown, there will be most prominently the cyanotypes of the recent series “SUN PICTURES”, shown in large scale, which use as matrix another medium in transformation, cinema, basing the works on film reels of 8mm and Super 8mm, which I have already used in other works, as representative containers of amateur archives of personal and collective memories. Photography, as much as Cinema, and in contrast to other visual arts, because both are recent artistic mediums, are therefore intimately connected with industrial development and innovation of their technologies, with the end of already traditional films and the appearance of new possibilities of artistic explorations. The transformation or disappearance of manufacturers-laboratories, as Kodak or Polaroid, and the uprising of others as Epson, reflect equally this technological evolution through the market (mostly the market for nonprofessionals) and that has and will have obvious practical consequences not only on the way we think, but as well in the artistic product and in the concept of memory itself.
We only need to remember the colors in which we imagine the 50s, to be reminded our our collective memory of that time is deeply related to the type of developing system used in Kodachrome (slide and moving image), and how all those colors are, in fact, illusion and just a result of a chemical process. I refer to this, as well, in the works constructed from found and bought original slides (DIA POSITIVO).
The work “ZEPPELIN 1936-1994-2012” hints at exactly this photographic memory through the changes of techniques of the medium itself. The dates in the title of the piece are the ones used to conclude this long process of transmission that culminates in this work. In 1936, shortly before leaving Germany, my grandfather photographed the Zeppelin images here shown, alongside the polaroids I did for a never finished project with Robert Wilson in 1994. Finally, in 2012, I bought the stereo reproductions, took two last images, that ultimately gave form to this photograph-object, this photographic spaceship between past and future, between magical voyage and its utilization during both wars, between me and my grandfather, a symbol of transmission and memory, both always floating, as well.
“SELFPORTRAY”, sole work in video, but equally existing as photographs outside of the show, is a a double object based on a double image by Man Ray, an artist who experimented fully with his “rayographs”, rediscovering an old technique of setting an object under the light of the enlarger to create a copy of its shadow, a positive-negative. It is therefore in direct connection with the other works in the show, including the image of “THE PHOTOGRAPHER”, a contact print under solar light from a found negative.
Another project for this show is “THE FIRST IMAGE”, a series of fourteen polaroids in 8.5 x 8.5 cm. It is a work based on an image by Niepce, that is considered by some experts to be the real first photograph in history, the original image, parallel to the most known view from his window by the same author. It is the reproduction of a table with a few objects of domestic use. This series done with the polaroid SX70 camera was entirely conceived in the home studio of the author, using some similar private items. This idea of copy of a copy, of reproduction of a reproduction, of impossibility or possibility of serial production of the artistic object is referred in the piece “UTZ”, equally with polaroid, and, because of the uttermost importance of the exact color in the photographic reproduction, as only then can it correspond to the truth of the original, attached on the registered blue of Yves Klein.
The film used, already past its advised expiration date, was also subject to a treatment of aggressive temperature changes, creating thus unique and non-repeatable prints, bringing to these image an “aura” and a memory of the single object, lost today in the era of digital, in which everything is reproducible ad infinitum ad nauseam.
UTZ is the last book by Bruce Chatwin, a novel about a collector of Meissen porcelain figures in Prague, who is unable to leave his treasured collection and flee the country, despite his despising of the communist regime.