Whilst discussing interesting artists who favour process over finished product with a friend, I remembered that I had come across Alison Rossiter’s work in a recent issue of British Journal of Photography. A key example of an artist using the traditional photographic process as a finished product, making the work speak for itself in a way that is usually disguised.
Rossiter’s Lament series differs hugely in aesthetics, ranging from simple compositions seemingly achievable from today’s in-date photographic papers, to mystifying finger prints and emulsion papers from a collection of papers dating back over 80 years. Rossiter uses the chronological information in the image titles, giving the audience a straight forward answer to what the work actually is, but leaves the question hanging of why. My immediate answer is to damn the digital era, to find beauty in forgotten nostalgia. But is this actually true? Probably to some extent yes, although I think it goes much further than this. The art I have been most interested in recently always seems to have an element of dissecting a process or an original image. Finding new ways to explore existing photography and photographic processes. To me, older processes have been disregarded too quickly. Nobody got bored of the art, it was more of a technological shift that caused the darkroom doors to shut that one final time. Tugging on photographic processes is almost a way of trying to tease it into the contemporary, and show everyone that in fact, there is more to it and much more than we had chance to originally explore.
Rossiter’s work is successful if I think of it using my theory above. It seems fresh and exciting, contemporary and unseen. It lets you give photography a second chance in once again finding it’s way in an unforgiving art world.