Nearly three years ago, artists Thomas Fougeirol and Jo-ey Tang began a project with the intent of turning a small storage space in Ivry-sur-Seine, a suburb just southeast of Paris, into a means of communal production.
An improvised darkroom was built and friends were invited.
The space was named Dust and the residency, The plates of the present. The name was inspired by a well-known text in The Pencil of Nature (1844–1846), a groundbreaking photographically illustrated book by William Henry Fox Talbot, the pioneer of 19th century picture making in both optical and chemical aspects of photography.
The project began in February 2013 with New York based artist G. William Webb. He completed a series of eight photograms, and as a result Thomas and Jo-ey decided that each of the following participants would continue to produce eight photograms for the archive.
The archive of The plates of the present is ongoing to this day and is on view for the first time in its current entirety for the occasion of the exhibition Dust: The plates of the present, February 2013 – July 2015 at Baxter Street at the Camera Club of New York.
The pictures and experiences that are encountered through the process of making a photogram are invariably individual. In producing a photogram there is an immediate understanding that regardless of your desire to construct a precise image you will most often be surprised by what appears in the light sensitive emulsion. It is fitting then that Thomas and Jo-ey invite various practitioners of art, as well as literature, science, and education to participate and experiment. Furthermore, photograms have become part of the work of a number of artists since their encounter with The plates of the present.
Thomas and Jo-ey’s invitation is one that spans beyond the production of the eight photograms that become part of the ongoing archive of The plates of the present. We are invited to participate in a process that traverses the history of photographic processes…together. The proposition that Thomas and Jo-ey present embraces both the unpredictable, poetic, and performative nature of this form of image making, as well a surprising affirmation in collective practice.
The plates of the present residents to date include:
(2013) G. William Webb, J. Pasila, Allison Somers, Marina Faust, Joy Episalla, Shanta Rao, Carrie Yamaoka, Ofer Wolberger, Munro Galloway, Bettie Nin, Raffaella Della Olga, Madeleine Aktypi, Robin Cameron, Benoit Fougeirol, Cécile Dauchez, Drooid5z, Ben Dowell, Nickolaus Typaldos, Nathan Gwynne, Emmanuel Van Der Meulen, Camila Oliveira Fairclough, Sonja Engelhardt (2014) Davide Cascio, Delphine Trouche, Daiga Grantina, Carlos Reyes, Agnes Lux, Jiajia Zhang, Zoe Paul, Chloé Quenum, Jean-Baptiste Maitre, Joe Namy, Jesus Alberto Benitez, Mimosa Echard, Antoine Barberon, Renaud Regnery, Thomas Fougeirol, Yonatan Vinitsky (2015) Anne Laure Sacriste, Antoine Donzeaud, Hubert Marot, Julien Bouillon, Lorraine Châteaux, Loup Sarion, Sylvie Fanchon, Jean-Luc Blanc, Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, Nancy Brooks Brody, Mo Husain, Sergio Verastegui, Julien Carreyn
The first comprehensive publication on this project will be launched alongside the opening of the exhibition, Dust: The plates of the present, February 2013 – July 2015. Published by Blonde Art Books and Secretary Press, the publication includes images from the archive and text contributions by Robin Cameron, Thomas Fougeirol, Mara Hoberman, Flora Katz, Brett Littman, and Jo-ey Tang.
The exhibition is part of a series of guest-curated exhibitions at BAXTER ST at CCNY resulting from an open call for proposals, and is made possible in part by generous support from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
All Opening images ©Ashley Comer