Christine Baczek: The States Project: Utah
In her body of work Museum Objects, Christine Baczek recontextualizes an archive of 4×5 negatives to resurrect objects from the collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Using the Chromoskedasic Sabattier technique to add ethereal moments to her imagery, the scorched manipulations explore the dynamic between obsolescence and reinvention, and the codified methods of collection management. Baczek selects the images from the archive based on their photographic potential, rather than relying on the specific history of the objects, and situates her interventions within time – privileging the connections between past, present, and future. She says, “A painting that I care for today that was made five hundred years ago connects me directly to the person who created that painting and to all of the owners of that painting. It is a living thing… My intervention as an artist creates a vein of tangential time and experience off of the primary timeline of that object, perhaps giving it a new or extended life.”
Baczek and her partner David Hyams are about to launch Luminaria, an alternative photography studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can learn more about Luminaria here, and support their Kickstarter to ensure Luminaria is a permanent fixture for alternative photographic arts.
Christine Baczek has lived in China, Chile, Italy, Santa Fe and Chicago, but Utah is where she finds the most inspiration for her work. It is a combination of the strong feeling of home she has in Salt Lake City, where she grew up, and the social, political and natural history of Utah. Her work comes out of a fascination with the State—past, present, future—and a desire to make sense of how she fits into it. Her research and practice focus on analog and alternative photographic processes like cyanotype, platinum/palladium, Chromoskedasic Sabbatier, film, etc. She uses this expertise in historical photographic processes to explore all aspects of her life including Utah’s landscape and history, her immediate community, and her experience working in museums. She has exhibited widely throughout the state, including the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Nox Contemporary, Finch Lane, and the Kimball Art Center. She has received a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Scholarship, a Utah Arts Council Traveling Grant, and an artist-in-residency at the Rio Mesa Center. Her work is in the Salt Lake County Collection as well as important private collections in Utah. She and her partner David Hyams, are opening Luminaria, an alternative photography studio in Salt Lake City, Utah.
From 2005 to 2014 I was the Collections Photographer and Digital Media Producer for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA). I would go to work everyday and have very intimate experiences with objects from the collection which spanned thousands of years and held works by some of today’s renowned contemporary artists. I was only allowed to document the collection, but as an artist I wanted to respond to the collection. I appropriated a dead archive of 4×5 negatives at the UMFA to try to convey my connection to the collection. I used a somewhat obscure process, chromoskedasic Sabbatier, in which the negative is exposed to silver gelatin (standard black and white) photographic paper, developed, washed in water, and then exposed to light. The paper is still light sensitive at this point, and different chemicals are painted onto the paper to change the size of the silver particles within it, causing yellows, purples, and the silver to oxidize on the surface of the paper. The paper is then chemically fixed to make the image permanent. This body of work is my personal documentation of select objects from the collection.
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