TAMSEN WOJTANOWSKI | PHILADELPHIA PA, USA
Tamsen Wojtanowski is an artist living and working in Philadelphia, PA. Her work has been included in recent exhibitions at Artist-Run, The Satellite Show, Miami, FL; COOP Gallery, Nashville, TN; Soil Gallery, Seattle, WA, Lux/Eros Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; The Black Box Gallery, Portland, OR; and 621 Gallery, Tallahassee, FL. Wojtanowski is a founding member of the artist-run exhibition space NAPOLEON, in Philadelphia, PA, started in 2011. She received her MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, where she is currently an instructor. She also teaches photography at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.
What is your work about?
With these images I reject the wave of defeat that has become so commonplace for so many of us today. I refuse to fall into line with the powers that be, or to acknowledge their labels or limitations placed on my body, my sexuality or my behavior. I wish to unburden from expectations. Through the creation of these prints in the B&W darkroom, using handmade masks and multiple exposures, I celebrate moments of play and discovery. I use images of the landscape as a kind of blank slate, a way to recall or reminisce about the past we never had but all of us have this sense that we remember. I explore the materiality of the photographic image and dislodge it from its relationship with reality. I forge ahead into a different kind of space where we are all equal, curious and free. With the resulting prints I wish to extend those moments of static time that I experience while working, and in them I hope the viewer can find their own moments of wonder, affirmation, and vitality.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Shooting on film allows my practice a measured cadence. There is no way to rush things or skip steps. You have an idea, you scout your location or subject, and then you have to get there with your camera and your film and take the shot. Shooting on film allows my studio work the opportunity for unexpected results. Once the shot has been taken, you still must go through the steps of film development, and after film development, enlargements in the darkroom. There is the first reveal with your contact sheet, seeing if what you thought you shot is actually there. Then come the big discoveries of things you didn’t know you had. Enlargements in the darkroom offer a number of other possibilities and responsibilities to get the print on paper and see it realized as you envisioned. All while you stand in the dark and listen to music. It’s better than a vacation.