“Photography” derives from the Greek and means a “picture of light”. With the help of the lens in a camera, the objects in the visible world leave their mark on the light-sensitive material. On the negative, the image is then rendered visible in various degrees of brightness (usually on a smaller scale), and on the print it is then fixed permanently – usually as an enlargement. Many artists explore the limits of what photography makes possible, process the shots taken using digital equipment or produce the pictures almost entirely using a computer. Roland Wirtz has taken a completely different approach in his photographic work: he has returned to the origins of the medium and is making use of the self-same process as that utilized by Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of negatives back in 1839.
In Roland Wirtz’ earlier works, the emphasis was on representation. Since then, his photography has increasingly detached itself from concrete pictorial content. His motifs, such as landscapes and architecture, are now the venue for creative photographic processes. Today, his pictures are abstract, with form and surface becoming ever more important. The formats are growing as a consequence, and he is now making negatives sized 100x100cm. To this end, Wirtz constructed a special camera in which he exposes the paper, rendered sensitive to light by a coating of silver nitrate and potassium iodide, for as long as two hours. And exposure of the prints, prepared using bee’s wax, takes a correspondingly long time.
Roland Wirtz uncovers an astonishingly range of artistic possibilities using this almost forgotten technique of calotyping. Produced manually, these one-square-meter-large contact prints not only display the aesthetically attractive traces of the photographic process, but also give a direct, genuine impression of the objects – and are thus documents whose authenticity could not be greater.
born in Cologne
lives and works in Barcelona