Images by Alexandra Bellissimo, Christopher Colville, Klea McKenna, Laura Parker, Diane Pierce, Meghann Riepenhoff, Saul Robbins, Ian Van Coller, and Mimi Youn
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 11th, 6-8pm
Exhibition dates: July 11th - September 1st, 2013
RayKo’s summer show highlights photographers who are making one-of-a-kind prints. Everything from photograms to collage to cliché verre prints to manipulated Polaroids. While some of these processes harken back to the first days of photography, these aren’t like anything you’ve seen before.
Alexandra Bellissimo’s “Simulations” is a collection of photo collages that depict psychological imagery by merging the human figure with various forms of nature. With meticulous attention to detail, she executes her visual intentions by physically piecing prints together to create textures and depth within the images. Forget PhotoShop: here’s a woman with an extremely sharp blade…
Christopher Colville’s “Works of Fire” were born out of a fascination with the dual nature of creation and destruction. The images in this series were made by igniting a small portion of gunpowder on the surface of silver gelatin paper. In the resulting explosion, light and energy abrade and burn the surface while simultaneously exposing the light-sensitive silver emulsion. These fire prints visually reference celestial events, the residue of both creation and obliteration, generated from a single spark. Who needs an enlarger when you have a match?
Klea McKenna wants to make an imprint of a place – both visual and emotional – rather than a picture of it. With this in mind, she rarely “takes” photographs. Instead, she devises ways that light sensitive materials, analog photographic paper and film, can interact directly with the landscape to reveal something unexpected; something that decodes the way we experience place. She uses a variety of crude strategies: hand-made cameras, outdoor photograms, and methods of folding film and paper to create sculptural photographs. This experimental approach transforms the familiar, yielding unlikely images that refer to location and subject only through light and form. The flawed material of the film or paper often becomes as visible as the image it has captured. McKenna will be showing images from “Grassland Photograms” and “Rain Studies.” Who knew you could capture storms as photograms on gelatin silver paper?
Laura Parker’s discovery that exposed and developed sheets of color photography paper could be used to translate a series of physical marks led to her series of “Photo Rubbings.” Suddenly a piece of chromogenic paper, when pressure is applied, could become a labyrinth, a leaded window, a double-headed axe. Shapes and occasional colors advance and recede, sometimes just a hint of the object under the paper, sometimes the object multiplies into complex patterns. An old printmaking process adapted to modern times.
Diane Pierce’s Polaroids from her series “The Accidental Photograph” are manipulated over time with a variety of casually collected materials. A flightless bird hanging from a yellow thread that is adhered to the surface of the print with the muted tones of the instant film igniting with thick bright paint in specific spots…The techniques and substances of collage become the associated possibilities for what is seen in the still photograph. The images ask to be deciphered by one’s own internal logic and are not suggestive of any one particular notion. A series of little mysteries.
Meghann Riepenhoff will be exhibiting unique works from three series, “Instar*,” “Eluvium,” and “Relics”. “Relics” is a series of unique 2-d and 3-d chromogenic photograms made with discarded objects from the Film and Photography departments at the San Francisco Art Institute. The artists who have taught and studied at SFAI are credited with initiating paramount movements in image-based media, particularly with experimental and conceptual work. The school is both Riepenhoff’s alma mater and her employer, and her time spent there has revealed the institution as an archive of photographers’ tools, a collection now subject to technological developments. As the school purged itself of film processing equipment, reels, safelights, and enlargers, Riepenhoff collected remnants of processes past and used them in photograms, a nod to early photographic practices. The series considers transformation and materiality, light and its imprint.
Saul Robbins’ ongoing project, “Where’s My Happy Ending?” is his attempt to step back and make sense of the struggles he and his wife have been engaged in to start a family. After too many tests and procedures and more emotional ups and downs than they care to recount, this collection of photographs, drawings, video, and ephemera, is the closest he has come, so far, to making sense and taking control of this extremely challenging and personal struggle. Daily, he and his wife remain united, actively engaged in, and focused on their desired outcome: a healthy happy family of their own genetic makeup. What began as a few simple snapshots and drawings has become a uniquely meaningful project, as the intentions that infuse Robbins’ creative process remain a constant meditation on the outcome they so desire. Each image is a unique c-print, carved with different tools, different patterns and marks scratched into the surfaces of the papers, leaving the viewer too with the sense of the artist’s emotionally trying journey.
Ian Van Coller came of age in apartheid era South Africa and is now raising his children in a small college town in Montana. As a parent, he answers their questions with as much probity and truthfulness as possible, wondering about the repercussions of this decision. As the nature of the world we exist in continues to evolve, each generation must come of age to face the essential challenges of their time. When and how we each become aware of injustice, inequality, corruption and violence -- and how we make sense and meaning of these discoveries -- shapes our humanity. In Van Coller’s series, “Coming of Age,” he photographs his children with an 8x10” view camera and then prints on Japanese paper. He thinks about the uncertain future and the things that scare him about that future for his children. The photographs are painstakingly hand cut and hand embroidered, with each piece taking several months to complete. As Van Coller works, the designs mutate from found patterns into his own imaginations (taking on contemporary political themes). As an artist, the contemplative process of patterning and mark-making act in counterpoint to the often difficult themes depicted.
And last but not least, Korean artist Mimi Youn’s artistic practice began with photographs. She was fascinated with the power of photographs, but felt there were limitations to expressing her thoughts, emotions and ideas. So she transitioned to a Polaroid camera. After she takes a picture, she cuts text into the surface of the Polaroid, sometimes in English, sometimes in Korean. Most of the pictures Youn takes look ambiguous and vague because of intentional overexposure; however, marks cut from the photographs look paradoxically strong and painful. Also before fixing the image on the surface of Polaroid, during the developing process, she usually alters the surface: bending, shaking or scratching a knife against the surface, so the emulsion under the surface spreads. These tiny, poignant SX-70 prints are jarring in their intimacy and what they reveal about the artist and life itself.
* The series title Instar is derived from the following Rebecca Solnit quote. Instar is a biological term used to describe the successive stages between molting in an insect. ”The strange resonant word instar…implies something both celestial and ingrown, something heavenly and disastrous, and perhaps change is commonly like that, a buried star, oscillating between near and far."