CCA Photography Lecture Series: Christopher Russell on Photography after the Death of Photography
September, 2019
Christopher Russell presents a talk as part of the CCA Photography Lecture Series.

“Immediacy is Photography’s greatest asset; the way photography interacts with our lived experience of the world sets it apart from other visual media. Yet the conventions of the medium elevate its illusionistic quality, focusing on trompe l’oeil–confusion between the subject and its representation. Traditionally, photographers have obsessed over dust and scratches, manipulating errant lighting in the darkroom, to create an image as flawless as the smooth surface of the paper it’s printed on. But I’ve come to think of photography as a medium that accepts the blunt line of the hand as a shock to this surface uniformity, creating interplay between the immediacy of the hand and that of photography.

“Traditionally, individual photographs are understood primarily in terms of narrative. Relationships between figures or objects are understood by speculating on what might have brought them together in the camera’s frame or what might have happened in the moments after. It’s this secondary interpretation, photography’s malleable narrative life, that I’m calling attention to with my razor–drawings.

“I use an action that is undesirable to photographers. In defacing the photograph, it becomes a Postmodern substrate for Romantic thought. I identify as a photographer, however I explore the medium through fictional texts, drawings and photographs. I mess up the clean reproducibility of the mechanically reproduced image with an X–acto blade, scratching elaborate patterns into the surface of my photographs. The razor–drawings appear delicate from a distance, but become textured marks of controlled, yet violent motions upon closer inspection.”

Russell received his MFA from the ArtCenter College of Design. he has exhibited widely internationally. His work is held in major permanent collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, Chicago, Hammer Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and others in the U.S. and abroad. He has also published many critical articles, a novel, and other books.

The Photography Lecture Series takes place in Ralls Studio, Room 202, on the Oakland campus of the California College of the Arts, on the Southeast corner of Broadway and Clifton St., Oakland. Campus map available here.

California College of the Arts
5212 Broadway, Oakland [map]