Christine Elfman

Even Amaranth

Even Amaranth presents a selection of photographic stills in which the hunter becomes the hunted. Whether through a stifling stillness or slow disappearance, these pictures imply the unintended consequences of voyeurism. While attempting to secure the subject as image, landscapes turn barren, figures become statues, and still lives shift. As a series, Even Amaranth explores photography’s defining features as a medium, both its incapacity to capture a subject and its corresponding fugitivity.

The amaranth plant was grown from seed to make photographs from its dye. Anthotype photographs of cast statues were made by exposing the dye to the sun for weeks in contact with a transparency. According to myth, amaranth is unfading. Yet it yields a fugitive dye that cannot be fixed. When the photograph is viewed, the dye continues to fade. The theme becomes the challenge of photography itself, which is compared—more generally—with the task of viewership: the more one tries to capture or “hunt” an object, the more it evades our grasp.

These fading pictures are placed alongside archival silver gelatin and pigment prints of landscapes where the trace of human presence is now long absent, as if to suggest a fragmented narrative in which figure is unique from setting. Together, the pictures leave us to consider photography’s registration of the trace as part of a larger, unstable project of memory. From the reproduction of statues to the proliferation of mythology, this project has a longer history of mediation between ideals of the faithful copy and free transformation.

dimensions variable, 2016