David Benjamin Sherry








Pink Genesis


Pink Genesis is a suite of photograms that celebrate the transformative potential of the darkroom as an activated, ecstatic space. Enacting a series of performative movements in the darkness, with a virtuoso command of photographic techniques, I created a group of unique photograms full of saturated color and cosmic depth.

Since photograms do not require the use of a camera, these newest works are advancing even further into the alchemical heart of photography. Unlike black-and-white photograms, which allow for the use of a minimal amount of light in the darkroom, these color versions require complete darkness. While working blindly, the years of printing my own work have give me the familiarity and the ability to move through a pitch black room as I adjusts my props––cardboard stencils, my body, sheets of printed acetate, my dog Wizard––before exposing the paper to the light of the enlarger.

My photograms can be divided into two basic types: precise geometric abstractions and freer, improvisational compositions in which my body appears as subject.

To create the geometric works, I make hand-cut cardboard templates that I expose on the paper to light, in highly controlled intervals. I use the enlarger in an unconventional fashion, intentionally misadjusting ratios of cyan, magenta, and yellow to produce extremely vivid colors. The photograms are printed on paper with a deep matte finish, allowing for levels of saturation that often make the surfaces feel more like paintings.
The darkroom performance lends the work an erotic charge. The results are sensuous, luminous forms that evoke otherworldly landscapes and mandala-like visions. While their symmetry speaks to a mathematical rigor, their handmade origins are evident. Imperfections in my cardboard templates leave behind subtly frayed (and thus optically vibrating) transitions between tones. As light passes through a blank negative on its way to the paper below, the edges of that negative are visible in the finished work, thus leaving the word 'Kodak' and strings of numbers identifying the type of film stock used.

Photography is a tool for connecting the entire body to its surroundings. In the new photograms in which my body appears, this intimacy is given literal expression as I put myself in direct contact with the paper, posing on the enlarger table itself. Each of my movements require both planning and a willingness to surrender to the unpredictable choreography of the moment. I make use of specially prepared sheets of acetate that incorporate visual patterning drawn from an array of digital sources. Their presence reaffirms the links between technological image production and human physicality.

Most of the figurative photograms are dense, multi-layered compositions, but Pink Genesis (Self portrait with Mars), 140C0M25Y, 2017 depicts the entire uninterrupted length of my body in stark silhouette. The background surrounds me in a deep shade of pink; on a radiant white rectangle, which appears to be held between my hands, are graffiti-like textures sourced from images taken during a NASA satellite expedition to Mars. Though photography allows us to see things far beyond the reach of our own eyes, I have made a group of works that celebrate––and are dependent upon––the limitless expanses of touch.