Barbara Crane, From Coloma to Covert scroll, Polaroid image dye transfer, 10X35 inches, 1991-1994


... ( ... ) ... I remember when I was working as Robert Heineken's assistant and printer, that he had told me about a joke that he had played on a curator, who was ever so insisting on having a piece of Robert in a show that he was the curator for, something that Robert was relunctant to give away as he didn't like the curator. Robert finally gave in but would not give up the fight so easily, so he concieved a piece on self-developping material, which was stored in a sealed box that was only supposed to be opened in full light, at the time of the opening. This sort of self-developping material gets darker and darker as it processes, exposed to the light, and this developping only stops when one lays the print into a fixing bath, something that Robert had ommitted to mention, so eventually at the end of the opening the picture was pitch black. As I was marvelling on the joke that Robert had played at the expense of this curator, he warned me that this joke had actually cost him quite a bit of trouble afterwards as it had set a terrible reputation amongst gallerie owners.
Later I told the story to Barbara, who warned me in the same fashion, and she told me that when she first started showing some pictures that she had made with newspaper transfers and other collage effects, the reaction amongst gallery owners was very mixed, one of the owners even asked her if she was actually "thinking" when she was doing this. This gave Barbara a lot of doubts about these new images and forms that she was trying to create eventually she felt that she had wasted some time on this. And even though, with time, she had become a bit more assured about those images, she was never certain about their worth as doubt had definitely crept in.
I learned a lot from this, and that is to always try to avoid trouble with the people to whom you are showing your work to, and also that passing judgement doesn't lead to progress. Image making requires, more than anything else a lot of freedom of thought.
And one does well avoiding being judgemental. There will be no lack of people, later on, to do the judgement bit.

Next lesson.

Other pictures from the same series.