Present Perfect

July 6 – 29, 2023

Artist Nathan Vass‘ chosen medium, analogue color photography, will be remembered as one of the shortest-lived art forms; it came of age in the ’70s, the populist sibling of B&W (itself the awkward stepchild of painting) and part of a medium invented too late to be taken seriously. It died out in large part on August 30th, 2018, when the last large professional-grade, public-access color darkroom in the US closed its doors. The timing is unfortunate: film, though no longer the norm for image-making, remains the premier avenue of approach for fine art photo work and is the fastest-growing trend in photography today. After two decades of experimentation with digital cameras, there can be no arguing that film yields a better image. In so doing, what else does it tell us?

Photography is a preservationist’s medium. We photographers seek to capture, freeze, save the past. We strive desperately to stop time, and we always fail. Or do we? Film photography is the physicality of a moment. You are looking at paper coated with silver halide crystals which have been burned by photons at a precise moment in time, causing them to change color. The light’s alteration of a print surface’s structural composition more closely resembles sculpture than digital photography, which interprets reality as colored squares instead of reshaping– quite literally– the material residue of a split second. It is the closest we can come to freezing the physicality of a moment, and somehow it feels appropriate that it’s achieved not with brushes or ink but something as ephemeral as light itself. Should we forever mourn life’s passing, or shall we instead rejoice in its qualities, and those of the things we have also lost?

The pieces in Present Perfect are handmade, analogue prints from a discipline Vass trained in which no longer exists, depicting spaces and people which will never quite be as you see them here.

Let us nurture the skill we will need ever more as life progresses. Let us celebrate what was. The past need not be looked at solely through the lens of sorrow. We own our memories, and are lucky to have them. “Melancholy is the happiness of being sad,” Hugo wrote. Let us therefore revel in what we can no longer touch, rejoice in what we once so easily knew.

Life is too glorious not to celebrate.

Present Perfect will be on display at Gallery 110 from July 6 – 29, 2023. Gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday from 12pm – 5pm and by appointment. Please join us for the First Thursday Art Walk on July 6 from 4-8pm.

Dramaturgy by Quinn Hallenbeck.


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About gallery110

Gallery 110’s mission is to provide dynamic opportunities to established and emerging professional artists in an environment that encourages creative expression, experimentation and collaboration. As a nonprofit organization, the gallery fosters artistic and professional connections between its associated artists and the arts community at large through creative dialogue, the presentation of challenging and enriching curated exhibitions, public opportunities and collaborative projects.