|Photo: Thomas Barrow|
At Dusk, the two book set by Boris Mihailov is easily one of my all time favorites. The books consist of panoramics, one in which the prints are heavily sepia toned, the others certifiably blue. The extreme color casts have a pronounced effect, both aesthetically and psychologically. Personally, I could do without them, and appreciate them all the more if printed to standard, cold tone, B&W exhibition quality standards. Mihailov stated that the colored prints more closely reflected remembrances in his own life that the subject matter mirrored in his present. The fact is, it doesn't matter if the quality never rises above work print, the added color effectively masks the any darkroom shortcomings and imperfections (making printing a blessed and absolute ease) and becomes an intrinsic part of the overall aesthetic. Regardless, the quality of Mihailov's compositions will simply not be denied. Great when you can get away with it- he can, and he does.
Thomas Barrow's Cancellations consists of sepia toned prints with a huge X (etched into the negatives themselves); often times it works, usually when the photograph is already good enough to stand on its own without the additional artifice. Sometimes the X effectively serves to join together disparate elements throughout the photograph into a more cohesive composition (I find a black border works wonders for that). Then there are times when it just looks like what it is (with or without a giant X)- a work print of a reject image with blown out highlights and deep shadows devoid of detail that would not make an interesting image even if printed well.
At Dusk's photographs work no matter the printing method; Cancellations looks like Barrows had a few winners (like the one above), a few almosts, and asked himself what he could do to spice things up a notch to present them as a finished package. He needed a hook; I'd call it a gimmick. He claims it's all about bringing attention to the fact that a photograph can also be an art object in and of itself, like any other art form, instead of just a representational artifact. Uh-huh...