For the Interim show, I wanted to present some family archive. I had been exploring and experimenting with them since the beginning of the year and it was the perfect moment to do my experimentations on a bigger scale and have a try before the degree show. When I exchange with my peers and tutors I showed them a series of images from my grandmother from my father side who grew up in Béchard (which use to be Colomb-Béchard) in Algeria in the French colonies and which was once the site of a French Foreign Legion post. The images are exquisite and seem like part of a documentary about French life in the colonies. I myself am against colonisation and have found myself torn between the stories of my grandmother and the sorties from the history books.
By presenting into lightboxes the images lost the personal and become objects of documentation to be exhibited.
I made the lightboxes out of balsa wood, cardboard, aluminium foil, fairy light, tracing paper and poly. I had a lot of problems with led as I wanted to have strong led but it was important to me that they were yellow ones and not white ones which I find too cold. the way I built the lightboxes made the lights not accessible as they were stuck under the images that I had nailed in top of them and could be turned on with a remote. I manage to have the result that I wanted to play with the opacity of the images that I printed on poly and put on top of a layer of tracing paper as on their own they were too transparent.
The curtains and the image of the man ‘are the opposite’ of the lightboxes. The curtains used to be in my great grandparents’ house (one the other side of my father side). The house was a massive family house in Burgundy where my grandfather and his 7 siblings grew up. This also the house where the family would work: they were making and selling the wine on this property. These curtains have seen a lot and when my grandfather took the house after his parent’s death he redesigns the inside and removes this curtain which I took and decided to take for this project.
Using the photo emulsion, I manage to transfer my favourite image on my great-grandfather on the curtains. The original image was taken at the end of his life in his vineyard.
The process of the photo emulsion was quite challenging as it was the first time that I was using it and the large format that I wanted would not originally fit in the darkroom of the university: The image of my great-grandfather Poupa needed to be as realistic as possible so as to close to human size as It could get. The process I chose to put the image on the curtain is photo emulsion. the darkroom in the university is perfect for normal developing but for a live size picture, the room is too small. Many problems were appearing: the digital image turned into a film and what kind of printing contrast would get the best reveal, the size of the projection and the fact that I only had one pair of the curtain which means that I could only have one try and it had to be right. Thanks to Nick (photo technician) we managed to find ways in the darkroom to develop the image and experiment with small pieces of similar fabric to know the exposure time. We had to turn a projector upside down and put it on an extra table to be able to project the negative onto the curtain that had previously been coated (4 coats) with the photo emulsion process. To coat the curtain we had to put a piece of wood on the sink of the darkroom because the fabric was quite transparent I needed to do as many layers as possible with an interval of approximation 40 minutes in between them so each layer would have the time to dry. According to the experimentations made earlier on smaller pieces of fabric, we needed around 11 minutes of exposure for the picture to appear correctly onto the fabric. Once exposed we had to put the curtain ( about 2,( meters high and 1,3 meter wide) through the different exposure liquid. Once done we let the curtain in moving water for about 1 hour to clean it properly and then put it to dry on a big panel of wood that we had to bring in the darkroom.