Touch Has a Memory

2021

Antonia Wright Touch Has a Memory 1

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, I place tropical plants from my neighborhood directly on chemically treated paper in addition to my body, and create an exposure using sunlight. I see each unique print as a performance on the page. These images thus become self portraits. This series has allowed me to unite my body-based performative practice with the history of the cyanotype medium. When the quarantine began, placing my body in physical contact with the plants and a paper was a way to connect during a time so void of touch.
 
For this exhibition, the images have been transposed to vinyl becoming a membrane that envelope 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. My 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.