With a Trace: Photographs of Absence, on view at the Akron Art Museum July 27, 2013—January 26, 2014, is comprised of ethereal images culled from the collection of the Akron Art Museum with additions from Northeast Ohio collectors Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell. The exhibition showcases works by a multigenerational, international selection of photographers including Christopher Bucklow, Margaret De Patta, Adam Fuss, Alison Rossiter, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Minor White, among others. Organized by Senior Curator Ellen Rudolph, the exhibition features photographs created between 1939 and 2010.
With a Trace: Photographs of Absence reacquaints viewers with—or introduces them to—analog photographic techniques such as the daguerreotype and photogram, which can produce images that challenge the idea that a photograph should represent a concrete thing in the real world.
States Rudolph, “As the use of traditional photographic media continues to recede into the background of contemporary practices, it is important to highlight the range of effects artists can produce by experimenting with the science of analog photography—light-sensitive material, chemicals and light.”
The images in With a Trace: Photographs of Absence bear traces of human presence, the transmission of energy, atmospheric phenomena and the movement of light. Using a wide range of processes to render their enigmatic subjects, artists demonstrate the versatility of non-digital photography in depicting such intangibles as memory, dreams and emotion.
Many of the artists share interests in psychology, philosophy, religion, physics and astronomy, evidence of which seeps into their images. Often deeply personal yet universally accessible, the images are as remarkable for their spiritual content as for what is visually absent. They contain the presence of something unseen: life, death, energy, beauty, love.
Process and theme go hand-in-hand in With a Trace. Alison Rossiter pours photographic developer onto the surface of expired vintage photo paper to create abstract compositions that resemble otherworldly landscapes. By contrast, twentieth-century master Minor White captured natural phenomena such as a pool of ice crystals that through his eye and technical expertise are transformed into ethereal scenes.
Time plays a critical role in the images in With a Trace: Photographs of Absence. Chris McCaw allows the sun to literally sear an image onto photo paper, representing the accumulation of light and heat over time. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s spare seascapes meanwhile reference the endurance of life through time, facilitated by air and water.
The physical presence of each photograph in the exhibition is unique. While the blankness of certain images provides a canvas on which to fix a meditative gaze, other vague yet evocative images promote self-reflection. Together, this diverse selection of photographs will emit the low-level hum of universal timelessness.
Artists in the exhibition: Édouard Boubat (born 1923, Paris; died 1999, Paris); Christopher Bucklow (born 1957, Manchester, England; lives London); Harry Callahan (born 1912, Detroit, Michigan; died 1999, Atlanta, Georgia); Margaret De Patta (born 1903, Tacoma, Washington; died 1964, Oakland, California); Jessica Eaton (born 1977, Regina, Saskatchewan; lives Montreal); Adam Fuss (born 1961, London; lives New York City); Lotte Jacobi (born 1896, Thorn, Germany; died 1990, Concord, New Hampshire); Chris McCaw (born 1971, Daly City, California; lives San Francisco); Amanda Means (born 1945, Marion, New York; lives New York City); Ralph Eugene Meatyard (born 1925, Normal, Illinois; died 1972, Lexington, Kentucky); Daido Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938, Ikeda, Osaka, Japan; lives Tokyo); Alison Rossiter (born 1953, Jackson, Mississippi; lives New York City); Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1948, Tokyo; lives Tokyo and New York City) Minor White (born 1908, Minneapolis, Minnesota; died 1976, Boston)
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