Nina Ai-Artyan10 (20XX)

What draws me to this image is ultimately what alienates me from it: the impossible-ness of the boundary between middle-grey and nearly-black running along the inside of her left arm.

It’s meant to look like an analog print–although I’d wager it’s a digitally post-processed negative scan.

There are two dead give-aways:

  1. Although it is possible to exert God-like control over a traditional darkroom wet print; even with Edward/Cole Weston caliber perfect prints, the result will never be as clean as this.
  2. The white at the right-edge and especially in the upper right corner would not produce a tone distinguishable from the paper backing.

Ai-Artyan has done traditional darkroom work. Yes, her prints are sloppy; but accompanying the mess is a sense of struggle, of painstaking labor, a sense ennobling the resulting work in a way from which her remaining work is bereft.

I don’t mean to be overly harsh–the necessary raw materials for greatness are present. All that’s missing are some shift in perspective–inspiration maybe, more likely desperation–and a commitment to the truth underlying the image above everything else.

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