THE AFTER LIFE OF THINGS
DISCARDED, COLLECTED, ASSEMBLED
EXHIBITION ON VIEW
DECEMBER 8, 2016 - JANUARY 13, 2017
DECEMBER 8, 6-8PM
David Wolf’s The After Life of Things explores the materiality of things and the nature of photographic materials, while celebrating the wonder of the traditional darkroom in an age of its demise. As digital photography pushes the traditional darkroom toward novelty, Wolf considers the question “What makes a photograph, photographic?” from the unlikely vantage point of creating fresh work from material otherwise thought to be useless.
Wolf explores the hidden, idiosyncratic beauty of expired photographic paper to create photographs that speak to a range of human experience. He works with these papers as found, discarded objects, utilizing the typically unwanted color shifts and random marks characteristic of the aging material as a metaphor for impermanence and mortality. The photographs are both images of objects and objects themselves, engaging the viewer with subjects as varied as the idea of home, our relationship to nature, and the merging of the sacred and the profane.
Wolf works organically, allowing his chosen material to guide his hand. The unseen qualities of aging photographic paper, shaped by the vagaries of time and circumstance, come to light during the printing process. Their particular qualities serve as inspiration for his choice of subject matter. His cameraless images are chemically processed without first being exposed to light. What results is the raw material for abstraction, whether simply found and exhibited as is—allowing the paper to speak in its simplest, untouched form—or transformed into assembled pieces that resonate with the natural world.
Whether working with a negative or without, Wolf allows for happenstance and embraces accident—qualities especially emblematic of the handmade, of darkroom craft. At heart, The After Life of Things is about photography itself, both its practice and means of representation, its history and place in contemporary art.
David Wolf is a devoted film photographer whose work has been exhibited internationally at such venues as Aperture, The Houston Center for Photography, photo basel, and the Lishui International Photography Festival in China. His photographs have been acquired by a variety of private and institutional collections, including the Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris; the Prentice and Paul Sack Photographic Trust of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA. David’s work has been published both in print and online in publications such as Harper’s, The Huffington Post, aCurator, FlakPhoto, Fraction Magazine, and Spot.
This exhibition has been made possible by the San Francisco Arts Commission through an Individual Artist Commission grant.