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Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer (b. 1978, former Yugoslavia) is a photographic artist presently working with wet plate collodion photograms – a historical technique dating back to the 1850s which uses light-sensitive salts to cover a glass plate before exposing it to the light in a portable darkroom. Her practice is informed by an experimental approach to early photographic processes and her interest in the image as an object. Captivated by the fluidity of wet plate collodion, she manipulates the medium while simultaneously courting chance intrinsic to handmade photography: “I spray, dab and brush on the chemistry in a performative enactment rather than an image capture. (Sometimes, the brush strokes leave physical marks on the emulsion.) In essence, I am negotiating with the chemistry, guiding it. But only to a point. The chemistry has a say in the final image.”

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The abstract landscape series, Elemental Forms: Landscapes and Elemental Forms, Landscape Rearticulated, emerged as the artist’s direct response to her surroundings and to feeling a sense of well-being and security within the landscape. She believes that each locale has its specific identity, history, and emotional imprint. Her aim with this series is to record intangible aspects of the landscape, as she experiences them through immersion and observation, without the camera’s capacity for transcription. The photogram as a medium allows the artist to search for the essence of the place by using simplicity and abstraction. By reinterpreting a 19th century process and reducing photography to its essential components, the artist has created a unique visual vocabulary suggestive of landscapes that exist outside of space and time.

Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer studied historic processes at George Eastman Museum with Mark Osterman and at the University of Kentucky. She was a finalist for the 2018 LensCulture Exposure Awards. She lives and works in Oakland, California.

Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer Installation image

“My aim with this work is to record something about the landscape without the camera’s capacity to transcribe it. The photogram, as the most rudimentary photograph, allows me to look for the essence of the place by using simplicity and abstraction – to chisel away the layers in search for the core.”