Growing Concerns uses early photographic processes to reflect on the increasing restrictions of movement for persons and the reduction of regulatory barriers for goods and capitals. Once used to write an excluding history of society, I re-examine these historically significant photographic processes to address links between photography, colonialism and migration.
19th century photographic techniques, including wet collodion, were and are mainly practised in Europe and the USA, but they require minerals such as silver, iron, gold and platinum which are extracted from mines based in in former European colonies. There is a link between photographic processes, colonialism and migration not just because of the minerals they require but mainly because of how photography contributed to the development of national identities.
European elites migrated worldwide taking portraits of locals in a style that referenced European drawing and painting tradition. These images contributed to create an encyclopaedic classification ofthe other,which was often portrayed as primitive or exotic, and to build national identity through photographic archives.
Wet collodion was the most popular photographic process between 1850 and 1880. It was the cheapest and most light-sensitive technique, but its most distinctive characteristic was that it allowed the first glass negatives, and therefore, the reproduction of images in albumen, salt and carbon prints from one same negative.
This capacity of wet collodion to reproduce images on paper copies coupled with the 19thcentury belief that one’s own identity gets manifested in one’s appearance led to the development of pseudosciences such as physiognomy but above all served to equate identity with identification.
Wet collodion is one of the most archival processes, making it ideal for creating documents to reflect subjects such as legacy, photographic archives, documentation and contemporary understandings /approaches to identity.
Growing Concerns is a series of 50+ passport tintypes of London immigrants made during the Refugee Week 2017. It also includes a smaller series of 10x8” tintypes in which chemical residues from the process are left over the photographic surface. The residues build crystals which are a growing barrier between the viewer and the portrayed subject, interfering in the process of observing and identifying the other, and also helping to create an ambiguous, ever-changing layered narrative to reflect on identity as a fluid and complex notion.
As part of this project I am also developing a series of chlorophyll prints that focus on the reduction of restrictions and regulations for goods and capitals. Using plants from Asia, The Caribbean and Latin America that are easily available at local daily markets, I print images from cinema, press and photographic archives that relate to the native countries of the plants.
Growing Concerns has been displayed at The Photographers' Gallery, London (UK), as well as in Paris with Festival Circulation(s) and at Four Corners Gallery in London (UK).