Ode to Gowanus
Updated: Jan 14
This year I worked on cameraless photos (chemigrams) that convey water contamination caused by humans. This particular series “Ode to Gowanus” is about the tragedy of the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn, New York, which is one of the most polluted waterways in the nation. This series were shown at the Foley Gallery in NYC https://www.artsy.net/artist/laziza-rakhimova.
My work is imaginative, extracted from the real world.
I use mordançage as a base technique—an alternative photographic process initially invented and used by French photographers. I add a few other chemicals besides mordançage solution to achieve the desired results. Mordançage allows me to “bite” the paper and create toxic colorful layers on each print. The photographic images are textured and have a three dimensional quality to it. They are disturbing and render the alerting reality of the human interference with the nature.
I use nature as my darkroom (these photographic images were created in the nature) . I use water from rivers and sun and rain for the redevelopment. In the these particular series I used water from the Gowanus canal to redevelop prints adding another layer of toxicity.
There is something alchemical happening when I use the photography chemicals on the paper; I feel like I’m mimicking the industrial discharges full of toxic elements spitted into the water. While I’m working in the process and creating a print I see the flow or green and orange and yellow streams all coming together, bubbles , fizzing noise, crackling that makes it very powerful and impactful in the moment of creation.
I titled these images to reflect the Gowanus reality. Lavander lake is the second name of the canal due it’s pepto besmol color, balck mayonase is the “result of chemical waste that was discharged from the industries that operated along the canal as well as by New York City sewage and street runoff. Then I have two infectious amoebas and the Gowanus duck that you can see sometimes in the canal. The work of Edward Burtynsky served as an inspiration.