Julio Grinblatt: Cielito Lindo
Curated by Christina Freeman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Fine Arts
Haverford College: Morley Alcove, Magill Library
March 21–May 31, 2016
This series of seven large-scale, monochromatic photographs was generated from a single analog color negative. As Grinblatt articulates in the framed “instructions,” installed along with the images, his process for making Cielito Lindo involved four simple steps:
1. I took a photograph of a clear sky.
2. I sent the negative to a professional color lab.
3. I asked the printer to print a beautiful sky.
4. Repeat from 2.
Printed over ten years by different labs in multiple countries, the single starting point opens the work to a plethora of variables. By directing the photo labs to “print a beautiful sky,” Grinblatt welcomes the element of chance; not only the subjective nature of aesthetics and individual experience of human vision, but also the material factors that affect the color analog photographic process. This series reminds us that the color of a chromogenic photograph is dependent not only on the film negative, but on each step of the printing process. The enlarger, filtration, paper type, brand of chemicals, and temperature all act together to make the final image. As such, not only the lab technicians, but also the materials themselves become Grinblatt’s collaborators.
Over the last decade, digital photography’s domination of the commercial marketplace has resulted in an increased number of artists investigating the very aspects that make analog photography particular. This interest in the physicality of the photographic image can be seen in the work of Alison Rossiter and Mariah Robertson; in Lyle Rexer’s book Beyond Vision published by Aperture in 2013 and in the exhibition What is a Photograph? at the International Center for Photography in 2014. Drawing on experimental methods that break with traditional practices, contemporary artists continue to explore the limits of the analog medium.
As one of the few academic institutions in this country still running a color analog darkroom, Haverford College offers students a unique opportunity to engage with what differentiates the analog medium from that of its hybrid or digital counterparts. In presenting Cielito Lindo, I hope to start a larger conversation about the limits of photography today, as well as the value of conceptual approaches across creative fields.