11 Sept - 4 Oct, 2015
Vernissage: Saturday 12 September, 13-18.
Event: Artist Talk, Thursday 17 September 18-22.
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 13-18, Sat – Sun 12-17.
Please contact the gallery to arrange other times.
– The last thing I did was to rip out that filthy eye, I was a bit afraid...
Ewa Stackelberg explains what happened when she made a picture of a horse's head, which she had picked up in a slaughterhouse. The technique is known as photograms, a simple principle, but the result is amazing.
She began as a documentary photographer. An accident changed her life and her images.
– It started when my husband was killed in a plane crash and I was left alone with two children. It was 17 years ago. Previously I had worked for many years as a documentary photographer with reportage and portraits... but after the accident my photography took a dramatic turn. I needed a different language. I couldn´t express what I felt with the camera in my old ways.
– It was then photograms began to emerge. The principle is simple. You have a color paper, you put something on top, illuminate and then develope. It requires a totally dark room. When working with black-and-white images, you can have a small lamp, but with color images i doesn´t work, they get damaged from any light.
– In the middle of this horrific experience a new kind of freedom opened up for me, an artistic freedom. I just followed my hunches. I had decided not to reject anything, no censorship what so ever. I gave myself the freedom to experiment.
– The first images were chaotic, violent and torn. Then they were dissolved and crumbling. I would never do these pictures now, but they corresponded to my state of mind then. After a while I felt that I had to do something really physically difficult and disgusting.
– Then I contacted a slaughterhouse, and it was amazing. The butchers were absolutely wonderful and gave me all sorts of things, in return i brought them a princess cake every time I went there.
– Sometimes a butcher would call and say ”well hey, we recieved a bowel package here, are you interested? I know you like that kind of weird stuff”.
– I went there and saw a horse head. Only the skull was visible, bloody and with only one eye that was hanging there. I thought ” God, what should I do with this? It´s completely opaque, just a lump, how can I make an image out of this thing?”
– But I felt that I just had to have that horse head. So the butchers gave it to me. I put I it into my shopping cart and went away with it to the subway, took it to my my darkroom and started experimenting.
– It was difficult and I was so tired. I kept on for several days and took hundreds of photos. I smeared the head with grease and tried to light up in different ways, but it didn´t work out.
– The last thing I did was to rip out that filthy eye, I was a bit afraid of it, and I just threw it away. It was pitch black and I was like a blind woman. The eye ended up upon the photopaper. Then I found the flashlight and I sneaked my arm into the horse head and shone the light through the eye.
– Finally the image came out and it was just incredible!
Afterwards I realized that for me it represents both life and death, the horse is the messenger of death and then a strong life force comes through.
– Most images come out unsuccessful and banal, too obvious. But this particular temptation may also lead to something magical, like a picture from another world, made out of something that is as concrete as earth, intestines, leaves, water, mud or oil. It is a kind of alchemical allure.
– It feels like I'm just getting started on a long journey and that inside of me there are lots of pictures left to do, lots of colors and images and patterns, and stories...