AR: If my work sparks a sense of loss and remembrance of people, I am pleased that it has a reach beyond the investigation of materials. Loss is certainly the premise of the Lament photograms. Responses to death are personal and varied, depending upon circumstance. On a wall above a work counter in my New Jersey studio I have photographs of long-deceased people and animals. To my mentor I mutter periodically, “I’m working;” to my father and mother, “I’m alright;” to the animals, repeatedly, “Thank you.” The images are there to remind me of the strength of past experience and the future need to put my shoulder to the wheel. Photographs have power like no other catalyst I know. KAS: Thank you for your time and for sharing your work with our readers.
left Alison Rossiter, Eastman Kodak Kodabromide F1, expired June 1948, processed 2013. Silver gelatin print, 7 x 5 right Alison Rossiter, Eastman Kodak Velvet Velox, expired May 1945, processed 2013, (A.). Silver gelatin print, 5 x 7
AR: Thank you for allowing me to attempt to explain. I am grateful. n
The disappearance of silver materials and processes is inevitable. The film photograms are a wave of farewell to an extraordinary experience. 2 0 17
AR: The Lament photograms are a tribute to my twentieth-century photographic education. I learned the systems of silver-based photography and savored film names like Super XX Pan, Panatomic X, and Verichrome Pan. I could load film holders in total darkness swiftly with confidence. I plotted characteristic curves with densitometer readings. Photography was another language and an acquired skill. The disappearance of silver materials and processes is inevitable. The film photograms are a wave of farewell to an extraordinary experience.
KAS: When I see these images, I can’t help but think about carbon, especially because of the gray tones, or think about ashes. What you describe is a feeling of loss I think many photographers who grew up in the darkroom share. I am wondering how you might respond to me and others who read into this work ideas of mourning, thoughts of people we’ve lost or death in general?
H O U STO N C E N T E R F O R P H OTO G R A P H Y
KAS: In the Lament photograms, the edges of the film stand out sharply. They become monumental forms, almost like grave markers. Other writers have noted the elegiac tone in your work, and you are able to extract a great deal of emotional weight from your materials. In calling this work “Lament,” the loss of the photographer’s art and photography’s connection to the darkroom becomes a metaphor for other kinds of loss, or for loss in general. Could you speak to this symbolic dimension of the work and the idea of loss in your work?
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