Alison Rossiter’s large-format homage to the sculptural properties of photographic paper.
Compendium 1898-1919is a unique set of twelve assemblages made from the earliest examples of expired photographic papers in the artist’s collection. The expiration dates stamped on the packages of these papers pinpoint their location on a timeline, and together they form a chronology that coincides with events in world history. Rossiter notes:
No matter what these light sensitive photographic materials have endured through their dormant years, they still respond to chemical development. Even in dark storage each package of paper reacts to its surroundings.Physical damage, moisture, and mold produce tonal changes when developed. I consider these marks to be my subject matter. The resulting photographic tones are evidence of experience and records of time.
This book, a co-publication with the New York Public Library and Yossi Milo, includes all 12 works from the series at actual scale, along with close-up details, photographed by Peter Riesett, Head Photographer, Digital Imaging Unit, New York Public Library. Historical references, which cover pivotal events such as World War II and art-historical milestones like Picasso’s Blue Period, are included in a visual timeline at the back of the book.
Alison Rossiter merges traditional methods of photography with more experimental techniques in her work with gelatin-silver-based photography, using a labor-intensive darkroom process that allows ample opportunity for chance. Working directly with expired photographic papers, she reduces the medium to its minimal components, revealing the qualities inherent in paper to produce subtle, abstract compositions.
Her ethereal, minimalist works are in permanent collections at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Canada; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis Institute of Art; and SITE Santa Fe, among other institutions. She has also had her work published in Art in America,The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her first title with Radius Books, Expired Paper, was shortlisted for the Paris Photo-Aperture Award for Best Photobook of 2017. Alison Rossiter is the 2018 recipient of the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography.