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Tessa Traeger

Chemistry of Light

This event is in the past. This is an archive page for reference.

Traeger's response to a large collection of 19th century photographs, negatives and camera equipment left to her in the 1960s by a great uncle in Tunbridge Wells.

The collection includes very early Daguerreotypes and oiled paper negatives, leading up to large glass plates from the 1890s.

Untouched since the 19th century, many are severely damaged. Various forms of chemical decay have set in as well as dramatic lifting and tearing of the gelatin emulsions which are peeling from the glass.

This damage and destruction became a metaphor for Traeger of the steady but inevitable loss of the materials and rituals of her craft as darkroom photography and chemistry has been superceded by digital technology.

Traeger has made new discoveries in these old and disintegrating emulsions, finding new and unexpected relevance in their corrupted materials and fading images.

They are a hymn to the layered mystery of time and light in photography, and to the miraculous work of its pioneers.

They are living again in the present, born, resurrected as the originals die in the splendour of their almost psychedelic chemical erosions and photography's early crafts die with them.


Purdy Hicks Gallery
65 Hopton Street, London, SE1 9GZ
infowhat's on @map

Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat 11am-6pm


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This event is in the past. This is an archive page for reference.
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