One afternoon at the AIPAD Photography Show last April in New York, photographer Beth Moon walked into our booth with artist Jennifer Schlesinger. Jennifer and I, it turns out, have something in common: we are both working artists and we both own and manage photography galleries. This combination, though it may sound natural, is in fact unusual – photographers usually quit working when they become gallery owners and very few gallery owners also have careers as successful artists. Jennifer uses her interest in historic photographic process to infuse her imaginative contemporary images with mystery & significance.
Jennifer has an eye to the past and an eye to the future: her chosen medium for printing is the albumen print, an historical process first published in 1847 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in France. Now, as then, this is a process where the print medium is created by hand, first by coating an albumen gel made from egg whites on paper and impregnating it with a silver nitrate solution to make it photosensitive. Negatives are then contact-printed on the dried paper. Making the paper to print on is a skill not easily acquired but it is only the beginning of the creative process (perhaps similar to another creative process that begins with eggs and impregnation). Many of the early photographs made with this process were documentary studies of architecture and foreign lands, but Jennifer chooses to use these albumen to document states of the soul and flights of imagination.
Her current series of intimate albumen prints “Vignettes – Tales from Above” elaborate on the myths and legends of the constellations by giving them life through visual interpretation. These images are sized in a 7” x 9” format that demands – and rewards! – careful attention and contemplation. “Mensa” is a dim southern constellation that represents Table Mountain under a cloud, where the stars are visual metaphors for the Magellanic star clouds that are so prominent in the southern skies.
In her earlier series “Here nor There” of selenium toned albumen prints Jennifer visualizes the creative aspect of play and imagination in seeking a path through life. As she says, “In between the adult reality and the purely imaginative one is the magic. The magic is the inexplicable place that lies somewhere between here and there.” Jennifer’s images create an enticing and dream-like image that is intensely imaginative and beckoning.