Andreas Olesen‘s photographs from ‘Estate’ are both a beautiful series of pictures as well being an exercise in the photographic process itself. Having been given a present of old negatives by his girlfriend – of what appears to be a Danish family on holiday sometime around WWI – Olesen used them while on holiday in Northern Italy in an attempt to bring the past and present together in a single image.
From a simple act of giving Olesen began to play on various levels; with form, content and technique. What we see are the found negatives taped onto a sheet of glass and placed in various holiday locations across Northern Italy. The photograph was then taken on slide film. In the darkroom the images were reversed – slide film gives you a positive transparency when processed whereas normal film gives you a negative – and the final picture gave us a stark juxtaposition of past and present, positive and negative, the two incongruous yet connected through time. The photograph seen through positivity and negativity. One found the other created. One historic the other personal. This playful approach to photography and the way in which Olesen merges time and process gives us these extraordinary enigmatic photographs that keep us finding new connections at every level while his use of glass – which he uses to tape the found negatives onto – gives an added dimension to the picture plane.
They are fascinating pictures, on both a technical and aesthetic level, and a reminder of the power of analogue photography and what can be achieved with technical ability and a willingness to play with the limitations of the medium. All of Olesen’s work revolves around the study of the photographic language and process, each series born out of a need to explore a specific idea through technique, his images a meta narrative about process. Here’s what he has to say about his series:
By shooting the negatives on slide film (thus making my own positive) and then enlarging this positive in the darkroom, the resulting picture is in negative of real life. Sky becomes dark, shadows become highlights, it is a classic aesthetic. But the negative being held up in the image is also reversed, resulting in a positive image. The present is reversed and in a way nullified, and the past returns to the forefront, becoming the focus. There is zero digital manipulation of these images, they are all photographed on location.
Estate means a property one owns or a legal position in English. In Italian it means summer.