White Cube – Black Box
19.01. – 26.3.2017
18.5. – 16.7.2017
For her exhibition of nature prints Anna Artaker has borrowed the title of the publication with which William Henry Fox Talbot introduced his photographic method in 1844–46: The Pencil of Nature. Starting point for the nature prints are Talbot’s photograms: In his experiments for capturing the incidence of light on paper Talbot pressed plants with glass plates onto sensitised paper and exposed them to sunlight to fix them as negative silhouettes.
Anna Artaker associates this “birth of photography from the spirit of botany” with nature printing, a technique perfected in Vienna in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the photogram, nature printing is also based on an actual contact with nature “that gives its very self to printing”, as Alois Auer wrote, the director of the Austrian National Printing Office (k. k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei) who advanced the development of nature printing to the extent of attaining patent registration in 1852: Starting out from an imprint in lead of the object to be printed, a copper intaglio plate is made using two galvanoplastic impressions, producing true to original images not only of but also through nature. The exhibition shows contemporary nature prints of plants used by Talbot in his time for photograms, also the intermediate stages of the process and a facsimile and original print from Talbot’s publication.
THE PENCIL OF NATURE series explores the theme of the self-imaging ideal aspired to not only by nature printing but also by photography. The focus is directed onto the historic moment in which images produced through nature still demand direct physical contact, as in Talbot’s photograms, where the actual contact generates the image. Talbot’s pinhole camera on the other hand emancipates the imaging process from physical contact. Despite this, he describes his photographs as “impressed by Nature’s hand”, therefore continuing to use the imprint as a metaphor stressing the “immediacy” and “authenticity” of photography. In our contemporary world in which digital pictures are at our disposal to a seemingly unlimited degree and can appear simultaneously on millions of screens, the return to nature printing – a medium of the imprint – addresses anew the question of the relationship between images of reality and reality itself.
Anna Artaker, born 1976, studied Philosophy and Political Science at University of Vienna and Université Paris 8 as well as Conceptual Art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, lives and works in Vienna.
Curator: Lisa Ortner-Kreil
Opening: Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 7 pm
19.01. – 26.3.2017
29.11.2017 – 21.01.2018