Touch Has a Memory


Antonia Wright, Touch Has a Memory, 2021, Unique cyanotype photograms on watercolor paper, digitally transposed to vinyl and adhered to windows. Installation image at Oolite Arts, Miami Beach

The name cyanotype was derived from the Greek word cyan, meaning “dark-blue impression.” This archival process was used in the 19th century by Anna Atkins, a botanist, and some say, the first female photographer. Atkins created photograms – photographic images made without a camera– by placing algae directly onto photo-sensitive paper and making exposures in the sun.

For the series Touch Has a Memory, Wright places tropical plants from her neighborhood directly on chemically treated paper in addition to her body, and create an exposure using sunlight. The artist sees each unique print as a performance on the page. These images thus become self portraits. This series has allowed Wright to unite her body-based performative practice with the history of the cyanotype medium. When the quarantine began, placing the body in physical contact with the plants and paper was a way for Wright to connect during a time so void of touch.

For this exhibition, the images have been transposed to vinyl becoming a membrane that envelops the windows. The larger-than-life scale of the body implies direct connection, but its positions are withholding. Because there is no perspective, the images reject the traditional male-centered viewpoint. The body is not represented in these works, rather, it is co-present standing along with flora. These constellations (commingling of the female figure and the plants) invite the viewers to reconsider our relationships with all other species, and to contemplate the natural world without human domination. The sensual, soothing blue color evokes its eternal beauty.

Curated by Rhonda Mitrani.