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Light sensitive: Kate Breakey’s photograms

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 7:06 pm | Updated: 12:19 pm, Mon Mar 4, 2013.

The most recognizable fruits of photographer Kate Breakey’s career are pictures of dead animals, presented with no artifice beyond the monochromatic backgrounds. If it weren’t for the visceral subject matter, the appearance would be almost austere, in some ways relating to Imogen Cunningham’s and Edward Weston’s 1920s plant and shell photographs, which were considered to have a radically simplistic focus.

One important segment of Breakey’s work transforms the details of carcasses into the shadow realm. This is the photogram, which she has been experimenting with since art school in her native Australia. In the dark, she placed a eucalyptus leaf onto a sheet of photosensitive paper and exposed it to light. After putting the paper through baths of developer and fixer solutions, she had a bright “shadow” image of the leaf standing out against the black background of the exposed paper. She was hooked.

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