On View: April 28 - June 2, 2018
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 28, 2018, 7-9pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, June 2, 3pm
Presentation on héliogravure: Saturday, May 19, 3pm
Civilian Art Projects presents START WITH THIS: new photographic work by DC-based artist Lely Constantinople, her first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, April 28 at 7pm and will be on view until June 2, 2018.
START WITH THIS is a site-specific installation featuring over one hundred gelatin silver prints and six héliogravure prints and copper plates. The artist will transform the gallery into a living space with furniture and personal items borrowed from family and friends, modeled after particular spaces that have informed her creative process. The gelatin silver prints will be displayed unframed on tables, inviting people to engage in a personal way with the prints themselves. The acts of handling, sorting, and re-contextualizing the prints increases their importance and imbues them with further meaning. Only the héliogravure prints hang on the walls.
Constantinople has been actively photographing in the documentary style for over twenty-five years. This new work simultaneously represents a departure from and a deepening of her artistic practice, prompted by finding a negative of a man eating at his desk -- an image she did not recall making. According to the artist, “The inability to place a distinctive and seemingly intimate experience in context triggered a re-examination of what a photograph is and holds inside of it. I started to look at personal images across time and experience as both document and concept, author and viewer. Once the images were pulled away from a documentary purpose, I started re-examining everything I had ever shot, as if a found archive, allowing for new narratives and connections. Time and other information didn’t matter; no need to keep the physical negatives intact. I cut single images away from adjoining ones and began making contact prints, or direct positives of negatives, one at a time…The enlarger, typically used to make larger prints from small negatives, was repurposed as a projector. I placed a contact printer underneath the lens, removed the negative carrier, and a circle of light emerged onto the page. I let it cut off the corners and started making hundreds of prints this way, each slightly different in size and shape from the next.”
To make the héliogravure prints -- the oldest photographic process, invented by Joseph Nicéphore Niepce in 1826 -- Constantinople worked with master intaglio printer Fanny Boucher in Meudon, France to create six copper plates and over thirty original prints. According to the artist, “the process was as laborious, time-consuming, and meditative as I had hoped. Each plate and print required my full attention, focus, and patience. It took days to produce each piece and every step in the process was in service to the next. The organic quality of the materials, their vitality, was what struck me the most…The deliberate activity of constructing the copper plates and inking each print encouraged the exploration of the very distance and intimacy I seek in the images themselves.”
Lely Constantinople has been exhibiting her work nationally and internationally for over twenty-five years. Most recently her work was included in Pasado Perfecto, curated by Pat Graham at the Centro Cultural Maria Atencia, Malaga, Spain. Her photographs are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Legacy Collection, the Smithsonian Institution, as well as numerous private collections. She is also an independent curator, photo editor, and teacher. Recent publications include Hard Art DC 1979, photographs of the early DC punk scene by Lucian Perkins, and SHOTS: An American Photographer's Journal 1967-72, photographs by David Fenton of the late 1960s counterculture. She is currently working on a book of her own work. More work can be found at www.lelyconstantinople.com.