Still Life: Photographs on Glass
July 12, 2012–August 24, 2012
Shredder is pleased to announce the exhibition Still Life: Photographs on Glass, new photography by Michael Kolster. Featuring over two dozen glass plate ambrotypes, this is the artist's first exhibition with the gallery.
Developed in the 1850's, the wet plate ambrotype process is indeed archaic but in Kolster's work it is rendered fresh and at the heart of our continued relationship to photography and perception. Although crisp in its result, the wet plate process is often left to chance and chemistry. It is both an arduous and exacting practice but also one much more improvisational and fluid than our current hyper corrected digital imaging. In these works Kolster captures images and objects from our every day-be it the interior of a safety envelope's security pattern, a map detail, or the arabesque curves of strapping plastic; they are contemporary objects thrown in contrast against the antique process.
Garry Winogrand said, "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed." Much is the same for Kolster with these objects and unique technique. The visual result is varied and often haunting and surreal. Some works, such as an aluminum can or lemon are simple and sharp but somewhat otherworldly and transformed as abstracted objects in stark contrast. Others are more directly abstracted, such as fluid patterns left by photographic fixer used to 'paint' on the wet emulsion. Stacked compositions, composed of two plates on top of each other, including a series of swirling plastic ribbons, walk between the direct and abstract, confusing which plate is which as the double images move forward and back gaining and losing focus. In this the works go beyond technique and academic query to highlight the act of perception and recognition of all around us. And here is photography, from its earliest days to our days, presenting certainty and question at once-asking the viewer to embrace or challenge this paradox.
Michael Kolster lives in Maine and teaches at Bowdoin College, Brunswick. His work is the subject of the solo exhibition A River Lost & Found: The Androscoggin River in Time and Place at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art opening July 13. Loupe, the Journal of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University and Memorious 18 are publishing portfolios of his river photographs this year. An earlier project similarly concerned with land use policy and its implications, entitled Changing Places, depicted changes in Las Vegas, San Francisco and New Orleans over a 10-year time span, of which a 23-image portfolio was acquired for the permanent collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography in Rochester, NY. He holds a BA in American Studies from Williams College, an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, and a certificate from the full-time Documentary Photography program at the International Center of Photography in New York.