Drawing in the Dark - Farrah Karapetian
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
I work with photography in a sculptural field. My father gave me my first 35 mm camera during my sophomore year at Yale, and, as I observed my prints change week after week in critique, I learned, for the first time, how to learn. My straightforward approach to experimental practice began during my traditional upbringing at that photo department.
In 2002, I stopped using a camera after an editorial trip to photograph the politics of architecture in Kosovo; in a fit of frustration, feeling that the act of finessing my prints in the darkroom did not match the trauma of the burned Serbian hillsides and displaced Albanians, I slammed a fan down on the table of the enlarger and mistakenly made my first photogram.
For four years after that, I visited the darkrooms of San Francisco with paper and whatever I picked up off the street along the way, working out the place of these objects on the space of the photosensitive page. It was like drawing in the dark. In graduate school at UCLA, I began to try to understand my teacher Charles Ray’s instincts for scale, then investigated the shadows burnt into the walls at Hiroshima, solidifying an interest in realistic confluences between pictorial and sculptural space. I am also influenced by Wallace Stevens’ “motive for metaphor,” which shrinks from “The weight of primary noon,/ The ABC of being.” My family brought me up familiar with the need and search for such transcendence.