Christine Osinski: Shoppers, Chicago, and Swimmers 1980-1996
When I first encountered Christine Osinski’s Staten Island work at Photo Nola last year it was love at first sight and I featured it on Lenscratch. As I shared in Monday’s post, not only did Christine go on to win a spot in the 2013 Critical Mass Top 50, she garnered a New York Gallery (The Sasha Wolf Gallery) and a solo exhibition from that exposure. One significant comment that Christine told me was that she has continued to make work for over 30 years, no matter if the work finds a home or recognition. Submitting work that was over 30 years old was not the usual course, so I was curious about her decisions and why she waited so long. Here is what Christine shared with me:
Prior to getting my Staten Island work out, I had never considered showing work that was not current. My older work has been on a long strange trip. Although I am a very good printer, most of the work was taken with a 4×5 camera and the only lens I had for it was an old uncoated lens which caused the highlights in the negatives to greatly flare. Regardless of how I developed the film, the negatives were extremely difficult to print—to the point that I gave up trying because the prints never met my satisfaction. So, I had all these negatives of images that I found interesting, but no good prints to show anyone. It was disheartening. Thus they sat for 20 – 30 years until recently when I was able to make very good scans of the negatives. I then worked on the files and worked with a commercial printer in NYC to produce silver gelatin prints from my digital files. So after a very long time and a great deal of effort, the work has come full circle and finally looks the way it was supposed to look thirty years ago!! Indeed, the work has been on a long, strange trip!!
Although, I continue to work on projects, I felt that I owed it to the Staten Island work especially, to do everything I could to make it as good as I could and to get it out into the world. I felt that I had enough work for a book. I went to Photo NOLA with the Staten Island work specifically mentioning that I wanted to produce a book. That is also why I entered Critical Mass this year. In both cases, I was concerned that the work would not be of interest to anyone because it was made so long ago.
I believe that good work will eventually find a place in the world, regardless of how long it takes to find its way. It’s most important for photographers to continue to take pictures, regardless of the attention or lack of attention that the work initially receives. I get great pleasure from being a working artist, day in and day out. By continuing to work consistently, I feel I will be ready should opportunity knock.
Shoppers, taken on Staten Island from 1994-1996
During the mid-1990s I frequented discount stores, grocery aisles and malls to create a series of portraits of shoppers. Using a medium format camera without using the viewfinder, I roamed through an overwhelming landscape of excess often under brutal lighting to collect images of hunter-gatherers. Like those whom I photographed, I too became a hunter-gatherer, but of images.
Chicago Architecture from 1980-82
I grew up in a working class neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. I became interested in the vernacular architecture so familiar to me, long after I moved away from Chicago. For me it was a way to come to terms with where I was from. Geography is an often under-recognized influence on our sense of space, light and construction.
Swimmers, Staten Island between 1984 thru about 1995
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