Take Me to the River
Photographs of Atlantic Rivers
Imprint: George F Thompson Publishing
240 Pages, 11.5 x 11.8 in, 185 ambrotype plates (including 10 foldouts), 2 duotones, and 2 color photographs by the author, 4 historic photographs, and 4 black-and-white maps
- December 2016
- In Stock
"Take Me to the River" comprises four portfolios of ambrotypes of these rivers, from source to sea. Three extensive essays offer different perspectives on ways of seeing and thinking about these places: one by the photographer on the collodion process; a historical view by Alison Nordström, the former Senior Curator of Photography at the George Eastman House, on the importance of Kolster’s work; and an environmental history of Atlantic rivers by the noted historian Matthew Klingle.
Kolster’s dramatic yet understated photographs were made in a portable darkroom set up along the banks of the rivers with the wet-plate photographic process, a nineteenth-century method famously used to document the battlefields of the Civil War and the great vistas of the far American West. The chemical slurries that develop and fix the image on the glass plate mimic the movements of a river’s current, and the idiosyncratic qualities of the ambrotypes reference the historical coincidence of the dawn of photography and the industrialization of Europe and America.
With consensus building about our changing climate and the extent humans are responsible, these four Atlantic rivers challenge us to set aside our usual blinders of seeing the landscape as either pure or despoiled. As the boundaries between the human and the natural are increasingly entangled, these rivers suggest how we might embrace, even cherish, places once degraded and ignored.
"Kolster’s photographs are magical. To see them is to slip in time between past and present, to know rivers as products of natural and cultural forces, to reflect on the place of rivers in American culture, and to appreciate how photographs can transform understanding. Take Me to the River is required reading for all who care about photography, landscape, and the presence of history." ~Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT and author of The Eye Is a Door: Landscape, Photography, and the Art of Discovery and The Language of Landscape
"Kolster's ambrotype photos are like rivers. They testify to the past, present, and future—here, a couple centuries of industrial history and the twenty-first century efforts to clean it all up—while remaining irresistibly beautiful." ~Jenny Price, author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America
"The medium is perfectly suited to the message in this beautiful and thought-provoking book. The light-sensitive emulsions flowing over the polished glass of Kolster’s gorgeous ambrotype plates evoke the river water he stops dead still with his camera. Images and rivers, both, possess a serenity that belies their complex industrial histories. By using a slow and laborious nineteenth-century process, Kolster makes us pause to wonder how we can find unexpected glimpses of beauty in our own lives and to think hard about historical change, never a one-way street." ~Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of History at Princeton University and author of Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace and Print the Legend: Photography and the American West
"Michael Kolster’s book is one of beautifully realized images and great writing by the artist, curator Alison Nordström, and historian Matthew Klingle. It is an unforgettable collection of downstream images, memories, and aspirations where the river will always be saved." ~Christopher James, author of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes
“Due to the long exposures necessary to capture an ambrotype, Kolster has created a juxtaposition between solid elements — bridges, trees and factories — and the soft fluidity of rivers, always moving and changing. This book is a magical representation of how something thought lost or ruined can be renewed, how even flaws and rough edges can be beautiful.” ~Photographer's Forum
“Although the ambrotype process results in black and white images, there is a perceived lushness within these landscapes photographs. His subjects capture not only the beauty of “nature” inherent in these river pathways, but includes a mash-up of the man-built urban landscape that is representative of the early settlements adjacent to most of these vital water ways… this book is a story about environmental hope.” ~The PhotoBook Journal