Young blood

Missouri, 2008
Wet plate photographs (Ambrotypes, Ferrotypes)
10,5 x 14 cm
Edition: unique copy

Over a period of four weeks I photographed different groups of teenagers; one group at a bus stop and the other in public park before their prom. The topic of the series is the racial differences for young black or white adults in America.
Most of the photographs are a collaboration with Mark Katzman.

Mark Katzman, Agnes Prammer
“Bus stop-Series: Untitled (Four boys)”, St. Louis, 2008

Agnes Prammer
“Prom-Series: Untitled (Two Couples)”, St. Louis, 2008

Mark Katzman, Agnes Prammer, “Untitled (large group boys)”, St. Louis, 2008

"In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want ­others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art. In other words, a strange action: I do not stop imitating myself, and because of this, each time I am (or let myself be) photographed, I invariably su­ffer from a sensation of inauthenticity, sometimes of imposture."

­— Roland Barthes, 1980

Mark Katzman, Agnes Prammer: “Bus stop-Series: Untitled (boy close)”

Young blood
Sabine Dortschy

Agnes Prammer shows a selection of photographs which were created during her stay in St. Louis. For ­these works, adolescents and young adults were posing for the camera. The resulting images seem to be from a different time, only details like hair styles, clothing or accessories indicate that they were produced in the present. The alienation effect achieved by the artist is due to the so-called “wetplate technique”, a procedure that was developed during the time of the American Civil War and which is still used today in a type of re-enactment photography that tries to render historical scenes as authentic as possible. For this purpose, a collodium treated and still wet plate has to be inserted into the ­camera. After its exposure, it has to be immediately processed in a mobile darkroom. Prammer got to know this technique in the US.
Through the long and non-calculable exposure times (two seconds up to two minutes) the assumed poses of the models, informed by stereotypes promoted in the media, somehow seem to fail. In fact, the depicted individuals remain strangely present.
Due to the self prepared chemicals and the particular lab conditions (Prammer develops her images in the trunk of her car or in a baby carriage), the result of the ­process is not really predictable. In a lot of cases, the particular flaws of the images increase their strange aura. Prammer‘s works remain partly intangible. On closer inspection, the photographic representation seems to dissolve into an almost abstract plane. One gets the impression that touching the surface of such images could make them disappear. With her fragile photographic ­“originals” Prammer evokes an almost ­anachronistic moment of stasis and silence, an ­abolishing of time which strangely contradicts the rushed society of our days and its permanent need for image production.
Her artist books in which Prammer loosely combines images and texts from her different series on rituals, outsiders, or sexuality ultimately deal with the possibilities and facets of self conception.

Mark Katzman, Agnes Prammer: “Bus stop-Series: Untitled (boy blurry)”

Agnes Prammer: “Prom-Series: Untitled (Two Couples)”, St. Louis, 2008

Original wetplates (unique copies), framed
Exhibition: 2010 / “Blickwechsel – Austrian Photography today”, Galerie Westlicht, Vienna
Print-edition Mark Katzman & Agnes Prammer, “Untitled (four boys)” and “Untitled (prom two couples)”, St. Louis, 2008, C-prints, 59 x 73 cm, edition: 10