top of page

Alternative Processes


Darkroom Experimentation

Darkroom Experimentation is a theme I identify closely with, having printed in darkrooms in some form since the age of 11, so I was delighted to be asked to curate this exhibition. My work as a professional printer, researcher, and teacher of historical processes requires me to work with a high degree of precision and technical quality. While I enjoy working in this way and being able to predict and control a particular process, my artistic practice often pulls me in the opposite direction: towards the unexpected, the experimental, and the unknown.

While reviewing the many excellent submissions, three themes seemed to recur in many of the works, so I have chosen to select two artists for each. While the themes may seem unrelated at first, some of the works weave strands of more than one of them together. The first, and one familiar to me from my own practice, explores the abstract and expressive possibilities of photographic materials when used in their purest form: to make images without cameras or negatives, using only light, light-sensitive materials, and chemicals. Ayako Sakuragi and Megan Acevedo’s dream-like, dynamic, and almost musical pieces recall the work of early abstract painters and photographers.

The second theme addresses the climate crisis and confronts the photographic medium’s environmental impact. In Transmutation, Eileen White incorporates waste and reuse into every aspect of her work: the negatives were made with recycled glass plates and an antique camera, developed using homemade plant compost, and printed onto consumer waste packaging. Katharine Palmer’s photograms are also preoccupied with waste: the prints are photograms made with discarded plastic, and meditate on the material’s permeation of every biological and ecological system on our planet.

Finally, many of the works submitted dealt with themes of subjectivity and identity - particularly female identity - in keeping with our celebration of Women in the Darkroom. Laura Gales icon-like portraits empower her subjects’ personal choice to wear hijab; while Sabrina Komars unsettling self-portraits on bacterial cellulose convey the fluidity of identity and the imprints left by trauma and anxiety.

All the selected works show great creativity and ingenuity both in their experimental use of darkroom processes, and their exploration of challenging subject matter that is often challenging. The standard of work submitted was very high: I could have selected three times as many artists and still have plenty left on my shortlist! Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit, and thank you to those who were able to donate to this very worthy cause.

━━ Constanza Isaza Martínez

bottom of page