Today I entered a dark room, hearing slow drippings, on the floor buckets with in it floating photo's. A bit alarming, photo's and water are not best buddies. Or is it fixant, the chemical we used to fixate developed photos, I remember the scent from the dark rooms in art-school.
I am at the expo 'Loopdivers' by Charlie Bonallack.
Charlie finds old photo's on flea markets and archives. He invented a procedure he calls 'Photophossils'. He makes delicate porcelain slabs. (for technical readers; he fires them ones, over 1000 celsius biscuits). And handpaints the porcelain slabs with brown and darkgrey pigment using the images of his collected photo's. After the second firing in the Kiln (again over 1000 degrees celsius). The porcelain images are saved forever. Really! Water, fire, sunlight, the usual enemies of images, nothing can damage these guys!
Charlie exhibits his fossils in water, illuminated by torches hanging from the ceiling, with audio creating an poetic, suspense filled atmosphere.
The second hall of the expo is a remake of Charlies studio, giving insight to the making proces, previous works and works for sale.
His work 'ghost walkers' in which he used images of heat-sensitive boarder control camera's who recorded people entering europe by foot, crossing the border by night. Due to the nature of this heat-images they appear as white, ghostlike figures. Resonating the photographic use of negatives to produce a positive image (before digital photos). Charlie again handprinted these images on porcelain and by the firing turn them into stone to be preserved forever and presented them on low placed table and in old suitcases. This moment in our living history of so many people seeking refuge and our uncomfortableness to respond. Charlie shows this without judgement. More as a record to be preserved.
I thank Charlie for being an artist.
For responding to this complex world saturated in images. I thank him that he gives his time, skill, attention and energy to reflect on and materialize our time in history. Give it the opportunity to tell new stories. Using the photophossils to literally and figuratively preserve the disregarded. Thanks Charlie!
You can visit Charlies Bonallacks expo until friday at the La Friche de Mimi, 42 rue Adam de Craponne, Montpellier.