January 27, frame 9, 2012

Basel 2015
Galleria Raffaella Cortese
Gelatin Silver Print
76.2 x 50.8 (cm)
30.0 x 20.0 (inch)
The photographs on show are pictures taken of the sun, pushing the limit of what is possible to record with a camera. One is not supposed to look at the sun and one of the cardinal rules of photography is not to shoot into the sun. The sun is the source of all illumination, but is rarely the subject of a photograph. Turning the camera the sun reverses all the rules of photography, but it is also a way of looking directly at the source of the medium; these photographs produce an image of their own starting point. These sun photographs, taken over the last year, are equally balanced between their subject and their process, the glare and flare on the lens, the grain of the film in the enlarged print. Without spotting or retouching, the evidence of darkroom work remains visible. As Zoe well explains in her recent dialogue with Shannon Ebner in BOMB: “I started taking photos of the sun as a way to investigate the idea of the subject in photography. If I tirelessly photographed the same thing every day, would it be transformed or erased? Would we lose interest in the subject and turn our attention to the apparatuses around picture-taking—the point of view, the framing, the grain, the quality of the paper, the tone of the print, the scratches and irregularities—all those things that make this a photograph and not a painting or a film? On another level, starting the sun series was a pragmatic choice. No matter where I was, I could take a picture of the sun every day. I wanted to keep up my own practice while I was away, to do some work every day, even if it was just shooting a single frame. At the same time, taking pictures of the sun was a way to work both within and outside of the conventional logic of photography. What does it mean to photograph something that is impossible to really see? Maybe it was also a kind of defiance. Turning to the sun breaks every rule—it’s not only the textbook “Don’t shoot into the sun,” but also a more primal rule, “Don’t look at the sun”—since, as you say, it will burn your eyes out. I was curious: What is this thing we can’t look at? Traditional photography happens in a triangle: there’s the photographer, the subject, and a light source. What does it mean to cut off this triangle and turn the camera directly onto the source?