Intersection: Ginette Clément

September 23-October 31

Opening September 23 6pm-9pm | Artist demos and talks September 24

Intersection is a four-person photographic exhibition with two artists from Ontario and two from Quebec. This bringing together of artists from the two provinces aims to expose each artist to a new photographic community.

Ginette Clément | Claude Dagenais | Raul Rincon | Philip Jessup

 Ginette Clément

Bettes Ö carde #65, 2014 smaller.jpg

Bettes à carde #65, 2014

 

Where are you from and who or what are your influences

I was born in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan (Quebec), a small agricultural village where I continue to live and work.

Since being introduced to the photo lab at university, I have always enjoyed work in the darkroom. Having my own installation since the 1980s, I have taken advantage of the arrival of digital, acquiring large-format enlargers that have fallen into disuse.

Paradoxically, it is the processes without a camera or enlarger that have attracted me over the past few years. Lumen and Chemigram filmless techniques have dominated my work. With no negative, black-and-white photographic paper has taken over, a raw material that has produced a multitude of surprising hues through excessive sunlight overexposure.

For someone committed to black and white, here I was with colours arising from the process. For someone committed to strictly controlled techniques, here I was working with a method in which intuition was my creative guide.

This lumen series is based on my preoccupation with nutrition and body image at a time when my aging body is imploring me to lighten its load. All the plants appearing in these works grew in my vegetable garden, and my body is interfused with the images created by the plants.

Can you explain the lumen process?

The lumen prints technique is as old as photography itself. At the photography’s camera-less beginnings, plants specimens were used as subjects as for the likes of Henry Fox Talbot’s photogenic drawings or the more documentary Anna Atkin’s botanical studies.

Plant cuttings are simply placed in direct contact on a piece of photographic black and white paper and left exposed to the sun for hours. As the exposure period evolves, the paper will darken and will begin to show hints of different colors (see more below about colors).

Once the exposure looks satisfactory, plants are removed from the paper and the paper is now ready to be chemically “developed”. Conventional black and white processing would result in a totally black image since it was so heavily overexposed. I simply process my prints thru fixing first. The image will then be changing rapidly in the fixer and the original colors can shift greatly. In fact, the results are a rather unpredictable! Some modern users find this fact really deceptive and will simply do “scanned lumens”. They will take the unfixed lumen and scan it to capture the blue tones and pink colors usually lost by fixing the print through traditional the darkroom process.

I considered myself as a purist and for me, a lumen print is fixed first. I also care to fix and wash my prints according to B&W archival standards.

 

Mñrier sous la neige #122, 2014 smaller

Mûrier sous la neige #122, 2014

How do you get inspiration for this process?

I probably saw some lumens plants images on the web and the project took form quite naturally linking my health concerns of the moment and my photographic interests.

It was at a period of my life where I placed major emphasis on taking care of my health. I always did a vegetable garden but decide to plant more small fruits trees and edible perennial plants, for being more organic and self-sufficient.

It is also a period where I set-up a second darkroom for large format enlargers. The darkroom process was on my mind and I wished to renew with genuine photographic papers.

I read about the lumens process on websites such as: alternativephotography.com and on Jerry Burchfield website (now closed). Burchfield (1947-2009) did extensive use of lumens printing on two major projects, one served to document the flora of the Amazon rain forest and did a similar project for Florida. Two books were published and are references on lumens printing: Primal Images: 100 Lumen Prints of Amazonia Flora published in 2004 and Understory: Lumen Prints of Florida Flora published in 2009. Another interesting reading in alternative photography is Experimental Photography Workbook by Christina Z. Anderson re-published many times over.

Argousier #98, 2014 smaller.jpg

Argousier #98, 2014

How do you get the vibrant colours in your images?

The final results are quite unpredictable with the lumen process. Many factors can affect the image such the exposure time, the UV factor and the air humidity. Photographic papers have their own specifications, old chlorobromide papers react differently that modern bromide ones. Typically, warm tone papers will produce most the interesting colors. The plant’s surface, it natural moisture, it’s pH value or some obscure chemical reactions can arise and influence the final aspect of the image. Small fields berries results are very funny in that regard.

Up-to-now I love the results so much I get that I don’t use any photographic toning solutions for my lumens prints. I will probably test some toning solutions at some point, but I see no need for it to have beautiful colors on my lumens prints.

BIO

Self-taught, I have always been immersed in photography. My images have regularly been used in publications for various newspapers and magazines, and recently for art works reproduction / documentation for museums collections. I have worked in the museum sector, moreover, as a museum technician.

My personal approach normally involves photographing landscape details on black-and-white film with large format 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 cameras or with a Noblex panoramic camera. I then make classic prints on silver bromide paper.

I have been working on my lumen project for 3 full summers now. Last year a group of my works was selected for the “Autrement en photographie” (Other ways in photography) group exhibition and book project along with the images of seven others alternative photographers. A bilingual book was published for this project.

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