On Disappearance and Appearance— The Ephemeral in Photography

Danish photographer Adam Jeppesen (b. 1978) experiments with photogravure by applying ink to the printing plate only once, allowing the image to fade away to the point where only a seemingly blank surface remains. American Scott B. Davis (b. 1971) works with a large-format view camera, juxtaposing original-size platinum prints in diptychs of positive and negative views of a motif that recede into the blackness of night, or into the glaring whiteness of inversion. And Finnish photographer Sandra Kantanen (b. 1974) uses digital smudging and overpainting techniques in dissolving the surfaces of her mist-filled images in a painterly gestural style. László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) is undoubtedly considered one of the pioneers of camera-less photography; his experimenting with photograms began in the 1920s. Emerging out the dark surfaces of the triptych presented in the exhibition are shadowy traces of vanishing objects that oscillate between a visible surface presence and disappearing into an abstract spatiality. Helena Petersen (b. 1987) utilizes the mere milliseconds-long instant of a weapon firing for her series Pyrographie. The photographic paper is exposed solely to the flash of the muzzle and scarred in places by projected debris, inscribing the aggressive force of the shot in the images both visually and tactilely.

The ephemeral nature of man and his existence is the focus of a series of additional works. In their photographic self-portraits, artists Andrea Sunder-Plassmann (b. 1959) and Rita Ostrowskaja (b. 1953) both begin with their own bodies, which are made to vanish using long exposure times. The self-portraits of American artist Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) are also characterized by an underlying melancholic atmosphere and proximity to death. With excessive vigor she explores the limits and possibilities of the genre, playing with symbolically loaded props, imaging techniques, and extreme close-ups. Isa Marcelli (b. 1958), Bill Jacobson (b. 1955), and Donata Wenders (b. 1965) also work with the human figure, disembodied in their photographs in various ways. In all of these works a common mood pervades both figure and space in which the outlines of the self are blurred and disappear.

 

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