34 INTERVIEW Zelko Nedic
sense of decadence runs through many of photographer Zelko Nedic’s works, depicting staged tableaux portraits which stare out in haunting monochrome while framed by the ghosts of developing chemicals. Preferring a collodion wet plate method over modern, digital equipment, there is a stylised juxtaposition of control and risk-taking in his images, as the grit of the technique is mixed with the glamour of his subjects. This is also evident in his image interventions, where gold is used to repair the cracks and scratches caused by the labour intensive process. Nedic’s photographs have earned him many awards, and this year he was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. How did you first start using wet plate photography? Tell us about the process? When it comes to the collodion wet plate process, time slows sometimes to a meditative state. It’s primitive and difficult; it has a pulse and rhythm of its own. The major disadvantage and challenge is that the entire process from coating to developing has to be done before the plate dries. This gives you less than 10 minutes to complete everything. It dries quickly because the ether and the collodion evaporate. I work mostly with tintype or ferrotype process, which creates a positive image on aluminium. For me tintype is unique because the plate that you see on the wall in a gallery is the same plate that was in the camera; there is no negative, there is only one image – it’s almost like a painting. I like to push it even further by hand colouring the plates, scratching, and stamping text onto the plate.
Choosing to work with such a slow and process heavy technique in a digital world of instant-art feels almost like an act of defiance; how does the way you create art effect the final piece compared to if you were shooting digitally? There is some act of defiance for sure, despite the technology and all of the advantages and disadvantages that it gives us, my choice of medium is a 19th Century photographic process, with an intention to step into the presence of a contradiction between control and risk. This was a move that steps back from what we are used in these days of instant satisfaction and the imperative to control everything. Shooting digital costs almost nothing compared to the collodion process, so from the start it helps you to set your mind to be more focused on what are you going to do. I would often do a drawing in my
For many artists the purpose of their practice is to explore the human condition and the seemingly infinite questions of existence that may...