Betsy Dadd, Basement II, 2015, Monotype © Betsy Dadd, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York
Could you explain this work?
Basement II is part of Flash Mob, a series of portraits - figures, faces, postures, gestures. The monotypes show glimpses of friends of mine from snap-shots taken in-the-moment; sometimes blurry, over exposed, ad-hoc photos captured on celluloid film. As a collection of prints, they are made to sit together on mass, as a congregation or gathering.
What does this piece deal with?
These works were about selecting moments, fragments of time, memories and preserving them. The photographs are frozen documents which I wanted to re-animate. Through a process of documenting and digitally manipulating the images, I transformed the physical prints into a series of moving-image pieces which embodied time - slowly morphing.
What medium and techniques did you use?
This process of mono print is direct and immediate like painting. I apply oil paint, rich pigmented etching inks, extender, grease and thinners in various consistencies onto a metal plate using a variety of brushes. The ink is malleable. I can move the image around or rub it away with a rag, use coarse bristles leaving scratchy marks or a fine hake to soften and blur the tones.
The plate is then passed through an intaglio press with a damp heavy-weight paper which absorbs the ink deep into the paper pulp - so a flush mirror image is created. I love the surprise of seeing the work for the first time, in reverse.
Translucent areas within the ink have an luminescence to them, where the paper glows through the image, which is what gives monotypes a certain ability to depict light.
After printing there is an inky residue left on the plate which I often use as the starting point for the next piece. So there is a sequential pattern to producing the work, the left overs of one image informing the next.
What were the struggles of making it?
I seek to make work that does not just replicate the source photos but are images within their own right. For this series I used the photographs as a jumping off point, to re arrange, re-compose, simplify and have a free reign to select un prescribed and disingenuous colours. Its about deciding whats the most important thing in the image, and what would be better left out- and this is usually the make or break of the print.
Usually I work quickly and intuitively, creating a body of work, so sometime the struggle and satisfaction comes in editing, selecting and discarding work.
What is the purpose behind this work?
To re-visit a collection of photos which weren’t intended for printing, to re-live and rework them in the studio - from photograph, to print, to moving-image.