Liz Deschenes’s photographic oeuvre deals with the conditions of photography and its components, with perception and the correlation to other artistic media, and with the architecture within which her works are shown. Her works allow a self-referential look at the medium, liberated of its functions, taking its own conditions as its theme.
For some years now, Deschenes has been working almost exclusively with photograms – pictures created without a camera, using a technique as old as photography itself. Traditionally, it has served to capture silhouettes: objects are placed on photosensitive paper and the paper is then exposed. Deschenes does without these external references: her works are made by exposing photographic paper for several hours, out of doors, mostly at night, before fixing it and treating it with toners. Depending on the choice of photographic chemicals and how they are used, this creates surfaces that are black, white, silver or golden, glossy or matt. The results are also influenced by external factors including temperature and humidity. The chemicals leave streaks and spots, and there are hand- and fingerprints from the artist’s handling of the material. “My work is in reaction to, I think, the limited scope that photography is often understood by. I think photography is capable of much more than representing a particular moment in time. (…) I’m just working with the most basic elements of photography, which is paper, light and chemicals. There’s no negative, there’s no digital file. I’m bringing it back to a pre-photographic status.” (1)