Oh Dear, Anna Atkins, Why – Why – Why?

Skærmbillede 2013-03-14 kl. 12.04.20

We have to choose one piece of art that we changed our mind about?

Reflecting on this assignment twiddling my thumbs there is actually a lot of work I have changed my mind about over the years. But to choose one of the latest discoveries: after taking my photography class in alternative non- silver processes at ICP I lean back on my seat and say to myself : How judgemental you were was about One fine Lady by Anna Atkins. It has always got my stomach to turn around, when especially girls fall into hysterical fake laughter with loud noises over their e.g. blue flower prints. I always sat behind in the room and thought to myself: How boring they are? How they “belong to Ikea design art?” So common and people just jump right into it, they just think it is brilliant and nice. Ah! I just was not pleased by it. But then my first class with Tricia Rosenkilde at ICP made me look upon it in a different way. Discovering a whole new side of actually knowing what Cyanotype is!While it’s technically true to categorize the cyanotype (blueprint or photogram) as a form of photography, it seems to straddle the fence with printmaking, although this may just be semantics.

Skærmbillede 2013-03-14 kl. 12.06.46

In 1841 Sir John Herschel disovered the sensitivity to light of a particular iron solution. When this chemical is dissolved in water, it can be applied to a surface such as paper, – an object can be placed on top and during exposure to UV- light, the background goes blue and a negative image of the object remains. Simple and cheap for artists! You can even buy a KIT yourself in B & H. Anna Atkinshad a solid education in science and was a member of the Botanical Society of London. She developed the Herschel discovery as a means of producing illustrations of the plants in which she was interested e.g. algae and ferns. During the course of the 1840s Atkins produced more than 200 cyanotypes which were included in a 3 volume publication called Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. It stands out as the first publication to include images made from a photographic technique and Atkinsherself is distinguished as being the first ever female photographer. By knowing this background story of her creation and her being the first female to do this, I thought to myself that I actually had to open up my mind this time, and not sit there and think to myself that this is “Ikea art.” I picked up the book and flipped through it. After a while of seeing blue, blue, blue, I began to discover that these images had way more to it than just being a stupid ocean flower!!! These were scientific and yet artistic in the composition. I looked again and deeper, tried to feel her pattern, allowing myself to learn her composition in order to gain knowledge. She did not stand out as “only a botanic” in my eyes anymore. The way she placed the flowers in the centre, sometimes to the side, was not strict and boring but playful – she had fun doing this, she became obsessed by it. She experimented with the flowers, almost as if they were talking to one another. She became more and more free and that’s when I felt that it was no longer boring. Knowing the technique behind this work and doing it myself discovering how difficult it is – and yet she made it look so easy and pure. Through this recognition I pulled all my evil judgement back out of the exit door, and allowed myself to be quiet with this: the simplicity of an object and the playfulness in using a technique: I felt respectful. Got me thinking of Picasso and Matisse, Yves Klein, the blue periods. But also how they would allow themselves to play and in the creation feel free. That’s why they produced so much! They deeply enjoyed doing this for themselves from their heart. This brings me back to ICP: to create is to allow yourself to discover, not get stuck in what’s art and what’s not, but keep doing who you are, not do things for others, but for yourself. In order for people to see the work, you need to play and be you. And do 200 photographs because you want to, because you are obsessed with your subject, not because you are told to it. Creating art is like eating and brushing your teeth. A necessity.

Skærmbillede 2013-03-14 kl. 12.04.03


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