Interview with artist Kristen Kula

Untitled, 2014

Untitled, 2014

F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?

Kristin Kula: I have always been an artistic person. My parents, although not practicing artists, have backgrounds in photography and painting. They have always been very supportive of my passions. At eight years old, I won $100 in a fishing competition, and when my parents asked what I wanted to get with it, I chose to buy my first camera.

I continued my artistic practice exploring every medium, but always fell back on photography and photographic collage. A little bit of me is a mathematics and science nerd, so working with cameras and experimenting in the darkroom has always been intriguing. I still use multiple mediums in my artistic practice, but photography always seems to become part of it or informs what I create.

F-Stop: How did the project “Unphotograph” come about?

KK: Unphotograph started in 2012 when I was still attending Columbia College Chicago as an undergrad in the Photography department. I was at a crossroads in my practice. Having attending the program for three years, I had nearly exhausted my passion for photography. What I needed was to put my cameras down for a moment to examine what it was about photographic processes that lured me in from the start.

In a course entitled Constructed Image, I decided I was not going to take a single photograph, and that is where the challenge began. The specific assignment that pushed me into this project was one that specifically stated “photograph an object in five different ways.” Up to that point, I had used performance and found photographs and magazines to fulfill explore different ways of photographing a subject. Having to “photograph” something was never a requirement.

To get around “photographing” with a camera, I went to the color darkroom and explored varying states of water; ice, cold water, room temperature water, boiling water, and steam. Starting with ice onward, I did multiple iterations of photograms and examined the differences the temperature had on the material. I knew that once I applied heat, I would see a jump in appearance in the c-print. The first print I boiled, I used the safelight along with the hot water. The result was a green bubbly photograph blended with the cyan fogging from the safelight. After that, I boiled an unexposed sheet of chromogenic paper in complete darkness, processed it, and out came my first Unphotograph print; a green and white wrinkled piece of paper.

Untitled, 2014

Untitled, 2014

F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images?

KK: My process is mad-scientist-meets-photographer-meets-painter. The driving force behind the way my process has evolved is knowing that analog photographic materials are not only light sensitive, but are also sensitive to heat and chemicals. The process varies piece to piece. There are periods of time that I find myself using a specific set of predetermined rules to creating the pieces and other times when I let go of all rules and let the results surprise me.

Essentially, the process examines the characteristics of chromogenic paper using boiling hot water, irons, a heat gun, and bleach. These are the basic steps I use when creating, but I have also used xylene, acetone, and other solvents to pry into the material. The first year of making these works, I limited myself by making every piece in absence of light and considered them complete once processed. I have since added the use of a heat gun, which emits a small amount of light. I also make manyunprocessed pieces, so that the objectsare forever changing and shifting tones as they are on display.

Scrap, 2013

Scrap, 2013

F-Stop: Some of the images look like they are photographs of objects you have created, can you talk about these (how you made them, what they are)?

KK: Every piece in Unphotograph is a unique photographic object. Some, however, are definitely more sculptural. The first piece that was more sculptural is Scrap (2013). This piece is made from a boiled, bleached, and processed sheet of metallic Kodak chromogenic paper that was probably 20 inches by 7 feet. I was upset by how the print turned out, so I went to roll it up and forget about it all together. Seeing the print rolled was an entirely different experience; I began to love it. After playing with the nearly discarded material, I found a form that worked for the piece better than it could ever have looked flat. I put it back in the crock-pot and boiled the piece till the emulsion stuck together acting as a self-sufficient adhesive.

Since then, I found myself using roll paper more frequently. This opened up the potential for the size to be increased greatly and I realized how I could utilize the material in three dimensions. My most recent piece, Paper Chandelier (2014), uses an entire roll of 5 in x 577 ft Kodak chromogenic paper. Through burning the paper’s emulsion with a heat gun, the surface boils and chars. This repetitive marks on the paper starts at the beginning of the roll of paper curling on the floor and goes on for the length of the two tiers of the chandelier, ending just past the light source in the middle. The base is the meeting of the untouched roll and the spiraling burnt beginnings of the chandelier. It is as if the roll of paper is feeding up to the light and burning the emulsion then swooping into the chandelier tiers.

Chromogenic roll paper to me signifies a commodity once valued in consumer photographic printing at drugstores and other mass photo printing hubs. This paper is now out of production and selling for a fraction of the original cost on ebay. All of these rolls will likely never become photographs and will sit on the shelf to expire and be thrown out if they have not already. Through pieces like Paper Chandelier, I bring new life to the material, allowing it to exist and be seen.

F-Stop: What do you want people to experience or think about when they look at these photographs?

KK: When people see this work, I am always fascinated to hear the many reactions, especially between the photography community and art & design community. Some people go straight into describing what they see within the colors because they want it to be an image of something. Others try to argue what medium the work falls into. A response I particularly enjoy and think about a lot as I move forward is about how the work is “violently beautiful.” Between the burns, bubbling emulsion, wrinkles and creases, the paper is saturated in brilliant colors that are aesthetically pleasing. This juxtaposition of violence and beauty fascinates me, and I hope there are others who see this in the work.

Paper Chandelier, 2014

Paper Chandelier, 2014

F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in the series? If so, which one and why is it the image that stands out to you most?

KK: At the moment, my favorite is Paper Chandelier. When viewed in person, this piece allows the viewer to walk around it entirely, to look closely and discover it’s intricate detail. Upon closer examination, the backside of the paper is also visible, revealing the actual material, allowing the viewer to more fully understand how the piece is created. I love many of my earlier works, but I am excited to work more sculpturally and in a larger scale.

F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?

KK: Many of my projects are ongoing. I am excited to get back in the darkroom after a five-month hiatus to work on new pieces for Unphotograph. I am also working on previous series of works I have done deconstructing print materials like magazines, books, and newspapers to look at ideas of mass produced commodities that are now digitally digested. Beyond the art that I create, I am also working on projects with a couple collaborative groups and working towards my next curatorial endeavor.

Attempt at a Landscape, 2013

Attempt at a Landscape, 2013

F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?

KK: There are manyartists I look to for inspiration. Artists that have influenced me once I started working on Unphotograph in particular include; Pierre Cordier, Curtis Mann, Walead Beshty, Liz Deschenes, Marco Breuer, Mariah Robertson, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Lucio Fontana.

I am always finding new work that I am instantly drawn to. During EXPO Chicago 2014, I saw a piece by Richard Galpin that definitely made me stop and silenced me while I gazed at the remarkable piece.

To see more of Kristen Kula’s work: www.kristen-kula.com

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Book Review: Bronx Boys by Stephen Shames

One

I grew up in Queens. I still live here. I live in a apartment in the neighborhood I grew up in. Even within the five boroughs there are stigmas about the other parts of town. Those stigmas pretty much leaked out onto mainstream America in the 70s and 80s. Even to this day tourists think they’re gonna get mugged in Times Square. In 2014 a street mugging in NYC is as rare as finding a Unicorn at the Bronx Zoo. I grew up in the 80s. My youth was taking graffiti covered trains everywhere, corner hot dogs, avoiding 8th Avenue, and eating a slice of pizza from a window on the street.

Two

Bronx Boys brings the dirt of old NYC out in all its glory. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say “dirt” I mean life. I mean “it is what it is” and making the most of it. Those can be considered blanket terms but New Yorkers have a habit of making the absolute best of their situation and not complaining one iota. We’re the world’s most famous coastal city and the truest melting pot of the world. New York is also a very expensive place to live. A book like Bronx Boys is the American Dream in reverse. This book is about growing up too fast. It’s about connecting with people on a primal level for survival. Stephen does an amazing job of capturing the candids of the life before him while also showcasing the heart and personality of his subjects. The book is a stark look at a life that happened. The images are reality. There is nothing staged here. They will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your lips all at the same time.

Three

The book itself has a lot of meat to it. One thing I really dug about it was that the narrative was saved for the end. It didn’t break up the flow of the photographs. The narrative will open your eyes, scare you straight, and well those tear ducts up. We all know these kids on some level. The book has a universal appeal. It doesn’t matter if you’re from NYC or Des Moines or Honolulu or South Africa; there’s a bad neighborhood we can all relate to. I recommend Bronx Boys and I think you should enjoy every single picture in this book and take them to heart. NYC is an ever changing animal and these moments among the chaos and clamor will never happen again.

9780292759428

Bronx Boys
by Stephen Shames
The University of Texas Press

Available October 15, 2014
For more info and to purchase the book: http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/shabro

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MCNAIR EVANS @ THE COCHRAN GALLERY

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MCNAIR EVANS: CONFESSIONS FOR A SON
OCTOBER 9 – NOVEMBER 21

OPENING RECEPTION AND BOOK SIGNING:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 7-9PM

In 2010, photographer McNair Evans returned to his childhood home in Laurinburg, North Carolina to retrace his father’s life and legacy after his death nine years earlier. His father’s passing had exposed the looming insolvency of their family farming businesses, ending five generations of family and financial stability. The economic impact on the family was immediate but the emotional impact lingered with Evans.

The Cochran Gallery
4 East Lafeyette Square
LaGrange, Ga. 30240

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FOTOFILMIC’14 @ Back Gallery Project

Pascal Amoyel | France 2nd PLACE FOTOFILMIC PRIZE & LOMOGRAPHY WINNER

Pascal Amoyel | France 2nd PLACE FOTOFILMIC PRIZE & LOMOGRAPHY WINNER

FOTOFILMIC’14
October 3rd – 19th, 2014

Opening Friday October 3rd | 6-8pm

FotoFilmic is an independent curatorial platform dedicated to contemporary film photography worldwide that aims at preserving the aesthetics, crafts and practices of film-based photography by engaging advanced artists, independent publishers, photo editors and the broad creative crowd of visual arts into insightful dialogues on the role, place and future of the film medium in photographic culture.

Back Gallery Project
602 E Hastings Street
Vancouver BC V6A 1R1

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2014 National Alternative Processes @ Soho Photo Gallery

© Melitte Buchman

© Melitte Buchman

2014 National Alternative Processes
November 5 – November 29, 2014

The winners are:
Melitte Buchman
Brooklyn, New York
First Place

Judy Bergman Hochberg
Canton, Massachusetts
Second Place

Timothy McCoy
Cumming, Georgia
Third Place

Soho Photo Gallery
15 White Street | New York | NY | 10013

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JOSEPHINE DOUET @ MONDO GALERIA

Yves Saint Laurent January 2001. Hotel Intercontinental. © Josèphine Douet Courtesy MONDO GALERIA

Yves Saint Laurent
January 2001. Hotel
Intercontinental.
© Josèphine Douet
Courtesy MONDO GALERIA

JOSEPHINE DOUET “Coutures“
17 September until 18 October 2014

Exhibition of photographs of the hidden world of Haute Couture

MONDO GALERIA
C/ San Lucas 9
28004 – Madrid
España

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Stephen Shames: Bronx Boys @ Steven Kasher Gallery

OneStephen Shames: Bronx Boys
November 6-15, 20014

Opening reception with Steven Shames and some of the Bronx boys on November 6 from 6-8pm.

A 1977 assignment for Look magazine took award-winning photographer Stephen Shames to the Bronx, where he began photographing a group of boys coming of age in what was at the time one of the toughest and poorest neighborhoods in the United States. The Bronx boys lived on streets ravaged by poverty, drugs, violence, and gangs. They bonded together and raised themselves in “crews,” adolescent families they created for protection and companionship. Shames’s empathy for the boys earned their trust and respect, and over the next two decades, as the crack cocaine epidemic devastated the neighborhood, they allowed him extraordinary access into their lives on the street and in their homes.

Steven Kasher Gallery
521 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

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ABOUT FACE: The Portrait in Contemporary Photography @ KLOMPCHING GALLERY

Pink Bedroom (Daydream), 2013 © Richard Tuschman

Pink Bedroom (Daydream), 2013 © Richard Tuschman

ABOUT FACE:
The Portrait in Contemporary Photography
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 6pm–9pm

While the portrait is–on the surface–the central theme of the exhibition, it has been curated with a view to showing artworks that are highly mediated by the photographer, and demonstrate how a human subject is utilized, in putting forward a point of view about a larger concept.

KLOMPCHING GALLERY
111 Front Street
Suite 206
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Close to Home @ Silver Eye Center for Photography

 Lisa Lindvay, Dinner, 2009. Courtesy of the artist

Lisa Lindvay, Dinner, 2009. Courtesy of the artist

Opening Reception
Friday, October 24, 2014, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Silver Eye Center for Photography
1015 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

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Los Angeles 1984, Colorful LA @ The Olympic Museum in Lausanne

Los Angeles 1984 OG, Diving, 10m platform Men - Gregory LOUGANIS (USA) 1st.

Los Angeles 1984 OG, Diving, 10m platform Men – Gregory LOUGANIS (USA) 1st.

Los Angeles 1984, Colorful LA
through November 23, 2014

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Games of the Olympiad in Los Angeles, The Olympic Museum is taking a look back at the colourful world of 1984 with the exhibition “Los Angeles 1984 – Colorful L.A.”.

This exhibition is divided into two sections: as from 24 July, a selection of 38 photos has been on display on the Quais d’Ouchy, on the shore of Lake Geneva in front of The Museum. From 25 August until 23 November, 15 art posters, which were created specially for the Games, are on show in the Art Lounge inside The Museum, entitled The Los Angeles Olympic Suite.

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne
Quai d’Ouchy 1
1001 LAUSANNE – Switzerland

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