Liz Deschenes
Back Grounds- Impressions Photographiques
February 22 - March 22, 2003
516 West 20th Street

Andrew Kreps Gallery in collaboration with Olivier Renaud-Clement, is pleased to present BACK 
GROUNDS, an exhibition of early paper negatives by Baron Adolphe Humbert de Molard (1848), New 
Landscapes (2002), contact positive prints by James Welling, and Black and White (2003) a series of recent 
work by Liz Deschenes. This exhibition was first presented at Galerie Nelson in Paris last November-
December, 2002.

Baron Adolphe Humbert de Molard (1800-74), along with colleagues, Bacot and Brebisson, was associated 
with the group the Primitifs FranÁais. Humbert de Molard discovered and experimented with the 
photographic process as early as 1843 and began using the paper negative in 1844. Around 1848, he 
traveled to Falaise, in Normandy, France where he photographed the city surroundings as well as 
Guillaume the Conquerorís Castle. This exhibition will present these unknown negatives for the first time. 
Introducing this type of material today questions the relationship of taking a picture-the subject- and the 
first results encountered-the object or the negative itself- even before a final image can be produced. Is the 
technician solely interested in obtaining a result for the sake of reproduction, or is the simple act of 
photographing and exposing sensitized paper to light sufficient in itself? How do we look at such an 
object/image today? Is this pure science, archeology, or can we think of this as an artwork? Why did 
Humbert de Molard not necessarily print a positive image, and what was his true motivation as a technician 
and artist?

Juxtaposing these negatives with James Wellingís contact prints from his New Landscapes series questions 
issues of contemporary digital techniques, the notion of banality, and the relationship of the subject to the 
photographic act itself. In revisiting the places where he spent most of his childhood, Welling revives the 
idea of the photographer as traveler. He returns to the impractical and heavy 8 X 10 format camera when it 
would seem easier to use lighter weight gear to produce the same result. The physical relationship of 
camera to place recreates a situation similar to ones encountered in the early days of photography. The 
result is a positive print that reveals the entirety of the original negative. By not enlarging the negatives the 
subjects are captured with amazing accuracy. Although Welling is known for experimenting with a variety 
of photography related mediums and techniques, with this series he has returned to the primary act of 
photographing- capturing light and understanding it. This, for Welling is the basis of all experiments in his 
work.

Liz Deschenes' recent series Black & White continues Deschenes' interest in examining the omnipresent screen, 
from its analog beginnings to its digital present. In Black & White Deschenes questions the importance and 
relevance of the distinction between color and black and white photographs. Early color processes used dyed 
layers of black and white materials and even now, this layer process is the base of Kodachrome and Dye Transfer 
printing, as well as a concept in Photoshop. In this exhibition Deschenes presents images of screens, real and 
implied, in both black and white and color. One photograph of a plasma screen reveals white light to be an equal 
combination of red, green, and blue pixels, printed to appear ìblackî at a distance. Light from an enlarger was 
used to make two silvery gray ìphotogramsî proportionate to a digital and analog screen. These black and white 
prints (commonly referred to as Gelatin Silver prints) simultaneously allude to the materiality of black and white 
photographs and the motion picture silver screen. All of these untraditional photographs are displayed in standard 
aluminum frames. In using these frames Deschenes references this photographic tradition first used by Alfred 
Stieglitz in 1959. The window mats are not entirely standard; the images are over-matted with proportions 
referencing aspect ratios, utilized in both film and television.

With this exhibition we hopefully question the ultimate ìtoolî of illusion and reality, along with the 
photographic process and the notion of perception.