Curtis Wehrfritz

My fascination with the use of the modern daguerreotype and wet plate collodion is that images float and they invite you to enter a theatrical space that the photograph creates.  The idea is to activate the surface: the photograph can do many things including create a stage with velvet curtains where you are presented a tableau vivant, a machine for feeling. It reminds me of the experience of a person whispering something secret in your ear.

Full Bio

About Curtis Wehrfritz

Curtis Wehrfritz is an artist whose photography exhibitions have paralleled his career as a filmmaker. His music videos have garnished two Best Director awards at the Much Music Awards along with eight other awards for Best Video in several categories. His work with Leonard Cohen garnished a Juno Award. Curtis’ first feature film Four Days was debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and was featured at festivals throughout the world. It was sold in eight countries and has been widely distributed.

Curtis’ visual art has evolved from performance pieces presented as live theatrical works, to installation and now have evolved to tableau vivant on Daguerreotype Plates and Wet Plate Collodion. His work on Campos Magneticos, a collaboration with film director Phillip Barker, was featured at ARCOmadrid.

Exhibitions of the Daguerreotypes have been featured in shows in Europe, America and Canada. His Moth Queen was featured on the cover of The London Sunday Times in 2011. His first solo Museum exhibition was at the Southeast Museum of Photography in Florida in 2012.

Collectors of Wehrfritz’s work include Kevin Miller, director of the Southeast Museum of Photography in Florida, and Anne Tucker, Curator of the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston. Tucker has continued to be one of the most respected scholars in photography as well as a life-long editor and close colleague of Robert Frank.

Five of Wehrfritz’s pieces have also been acquired for the collection of PH Neutro in Italy who has an esteemed list of 20th Century Masters.

Recently, Curtis’ work has been represented at Artist Fair Pietrasanta, at Arte Fiera Bologna and at Fotofever Bruxelles. Curtis was a featured artist at FotoExpo Santiago, Chile as well as Scope Miami in 2014.

Artist Statement:
The series lost canoe features an idyllic lake untouched by humans, save a lone, unmoored canoe. The pristine wilderness portrayed in Curtis Wehrfritz’s wet plate collodions suggests a timeless memory as old as the process by which he captures his images. Somehow familiar, this re- imagined landscape also seems to be haunted by the past.

We all carry an image of a lake in the woods, but for the most part something this pure resides only in our imagination. Whether we speak of the First Nations, the explorers they taught, or of a fond personal memory of summer camp, the canoe is imprinted on our collective imagination as well. Hand-crafted, unmanned, unmoored, and timeless, the canoe is our humble guide in our journey. There is a saying that every campfire you attend brings back the memory of another fire, so too with paddling a canoe.

The first image of this series was envisioned by chance, coming across a canoe adrift at sunset at the mouth of a river. Perfect and mysterious, the inspiration for this story began as the artist’s personal memory. In creating the series, it was a conscious choice to begin to work with wet plate collodion, a process that dates to the earliest recorded photo images. The plates are individually hand-poured, dipped in silver nitrate and exposed in a camera. The process is very much akin to a type of old- school Polaroid. The exposures must be made and developed while the plate is still wet, giving us a keen sense of a moment in time that the plate itself witnessed. Each plate acts as a machine for memory.

Although only exhibited for the first time this year, the series lost canoe has been an ongoing process for Wehrfritz for the past seven years, returning to the same location each Spring and Fall to recapture the same minimal image in new light.

The exhibition consists of hand-built, hand-polished daggeurotypes and collodions in custom pillow boxes, as well as more contemporary, multi- plate composite works.


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