Joanne Dugan: Mulitples and Meditations by Aline Smithson
I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Joanne Dugan when she visited Los Angeles recently and enjoyed discussing her approach to photography. Joanne is an artist who uses photographic materials and processes to create art. Some years ago, the New York Timeswrote about about her practice: “As a fine artist, I only work in analog. To me, photography is film, and the alchemy of silver and light and chemicals is still really important.” And like analog photographs themselves, her “Turning Point” series was born in the dark. Dugan began the project in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, while she was sitting in her apartment at the edge of the blackout grid — the view out front was lit, but out to the sides it was dark. “There was an odd peacefulness that that came over me as I roamed around the city in a state of wonder,” she says. “I had this epiphany that it is okay to turn my lens only to the light itself, rather than the subjects.” The fragility of light became her focus as she traveled the city, often by bike, layering her images with up to 20 multiple exposures. “The work is an homage to the traditional process,” she says, “but brings a modern viewpoint.”
She has had a decades long commitment to the darkroom, and her projects, Meditations, Multiples, Series 2 and Turning Point, all speak to the meditative state of the darkroom to create unique one-of-a-kind collages.
Joanne’s work is currently in the exhibition, Fundamentals, at the Black Box Gallery in London, running through October 19th.The exhibition brings together the work of nine international contemporary artists who apply historic photographic techniques to create innovative and unique artworks. The artists, many of whom work with handmade cameras, modified cameras, or no camera at all, are unified by their dedication to exploring the processes of the past and discovering novel approaches to factoring them into their practice, while redefining the very root of what photography can be.