I have collected over twelve hundred packages of expired photographic papers. The expiration dates on the labels represent every decade of the twentieth century as well as rare examples from the late nineteenth century. The papers are from North America, Europe, Eastern Europe and Australia. This archive is a cross section of the history of photographic print materials, and it is the main resource for my current work. Two directions emerged from my work with the expired papers: Found Photograms and Selectively Developed Forms. Both groups make prints that suggest works of art from Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism.
Defender Velour Black, expired January 1946, processed 2011, (C.), 2011, diptych, 10 x 8 inches each element, unique gelatin silver print courtesy of the Yossi Milo Gallery and the Stephen Bulger Gallery.
Latent images made by light leaks, oxidation, and physical damage generate found-photograms. Intricate patterns are etched into the emulsion surface by molds. Some papers have been thoroughly exposed to light by the time I handle them, and I selectively develop portions of these emulsions. For my processing experiments I use only familiar photographic darkroom skills and the flow of liquids in the chemical trays to guide this work. Pooled developer makes amorphous shapes, and paper dipped in developer can suggest a landscape. Each package has potential based upon the variable and unknown conditions it has endured through the years. The expiration dates provide reference points on a time line through world history. I make associations with events and eras as I look into both the maximum density black of a paper and incomprehensible time.
– Alison Rossiter