Imprint: George F Thompson Publishing
138 Pages, 11 x 9 in, 76 illustrations, as follows: 72 ambrotypes (including six foldouts) by the author, three historic photographs, and one map
- May 2019
- In Stock
Michael Kolster, in L.A. River, relies on a nineteenth-century photographic technology to render the Los Angeles River today, from its headwaters in Canoga Park and the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach. Coincidentally, the founding of the city of Los Angeles and California’s achievement of statehood in 1850 coincide historically with the invention of the wet-plate photographic process, forever linking the city and state with the centrality of photography. The moving images that define L.A. River show a feature of the city’s landscape that initially attracted native peoples to its banks and gave rise to the formation of our nation’s second-largest city.
Channeled in concrete during the last century to control flooding, the river was all but removed from the life of the city until the turn of the twenty-first century, when concerted efforts were made by some to peel back some of the concrete and to let nature live once again. In his photographic journey, Kolster considers both the past and present and how the accumulation of life along the river suggests a larger a role for the L.A. River in the lives of the city’s inhabitants.
Kolster’s ambrotypes and resultant prints of the L.A. River are as close as we get in our own time to the capturing of a mutable natural form via a process in which chance and variability are to be celebrated. One can speak of the grandeur of the series, its beauty, and its capacity for intellectual pleasure. For me, it’s the audacity of the photographer working in and against time to fashion an image made of light; it’s the symbiosis between collodion and human skin; it’s the power inherent in an older form to make us see our contemporary landscape afresh. ~Horace D. Ballard, Ph.D., Curator of American Art, Williams College Museum of Art
“The photos in L.A. River depict the urban waterway’s range of moods, from a temperamental force periodically destroying its surroundings to a shy trickle encase in concrete”