For the last three years, Austin-based artist Christa Blackwood has taken her large-format, film-view cameras & models and has hit the road. Traveling around Texas, and across New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, her work stages the nude male body within the majesty of North America’s gorgeous western landscape, and situates it in a genealogy of classical photographic studies of the human figure.
a dot red, a series of hand-pulled photogravures, explores new perspectives on traditional genres and images found in landscape and portrait photography. By combining historical photographic techniques with more contemporary conceptual strategies, these works shift the focus of attention, and enable a reconsideration of its classical subjects.
Blackwood’s work employs both historic and modern photographic techniques to critique and give a contemporary and feminist voice to her photography. Exploring the idea of “the figure” with a red dot, backgrounded by historical landscape photographs, tradition and contemporary theory mingle, merge and clash. These traditional landscapes - historically photographed by men - act as metaphor for a male view, and through this the feminine metaphor of the “red dot” emerges and creates a visual enigma which deliberately defies this tradition. Often and traditionally portrayed as nudes, the female body in photographs stands in stark contrast to the portrayal of men - often the ones taking the portraits - famous male photographers such a Weston, Steiglitz, Man Ray, etc, who commonly employed “the male gaze” approach. A final, distressing statement is made in the last photo of the series, the red dot itself, with an anonymous female figure, divided.
—W. Tanner Young, Filter Photo
The young bare-chested men in this series of portraits, with their free-flowing dark hair and their wide-opened stares, seem to harken back to the first decades of photography, as much as having been pulled from the local skateboard park. Glued to whatever it is that is confronting them head-on, their fixated gazes might betray the name of the place that they mythically hail from: Collodion, from the Greek kollōdēs, meaning "gluelike." Looking as though they have become suddenly entranced by the song of the sirens, or nearly petrified by the head of the gorgon, the boys of collodion are our modern day kouroi. Stripped of colour except for a single red badge—medal and scar—they are glued and unglued at once.
—John Paul Ricco
Collodion tintypes made in collaboration with Blackwood's daughter and named after the boarding school from J.D. Salinger's, Catcher in the Rye, addressesing the horrors, fears, hormonal shifts and emotional awakenings that characterize adolescence.
Landscapes and enigmatic still-life compositions are punctuated by a physical film manipulation, scratching and mark making, graphically and poignantly altering a peaceful narrative. Laden with the heightened drama of film stills, these images evoke the movement-based studies of Eadward Muybridge, explosive celestial events, and discomfiting undertones of violence in scenes of everyday life.
The Children’s Photographic Collective (CPC) is an organization dedicated to increasing children’s awareness and understanding of culture through photography. Founded in New York City in 1993 by Christa Blackwood. CPC has participated in workshops with the Austin Museum of Art, Dougherty Art Center, Good Sheppard Community Center, PS 15, PS 122, Mexic-Arte Museum, Texas School for the Deaf, Safeplace, The Settlement Home for Girls, Alison Elementary, Andrews Elementary, Reagan High School, among others.