13 September - 7 October 2023
Opening Thursday, 14 September, 6–8 pm
Nicholas Building, Level 7, Room 14, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Opening hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 12–6pm
Isabella Ford • Camille Perry • Lara Young • Luca Zurich
in collaboration with
London Alternative Photography Collective
Melanie King • Hannah Fletcher • Martha Gray • Katrina Stamatopolous
"[The] cinematic image can be thought of as fossilised light, thus practically and metaphorically equating cinema with the geological dimensions of the naturally derived fuels (fossilised sunlight) that continue to enable industrial society and culture."
– Nadia Bozak, The Cinematic Footprint
Fossilised Sunshine is an immersive exhibition that explores the multifaceted nature of photography through the intersecting lens’ of Collective Agitation and London Alternative Photography Collective. Through a curated collection of documents, material investigations, recipes, books, and personal notes, visitors are invited to physically navigate the realm of photographic alchemy.
Central to this project is a critical investigation into the intersecting disciplines within photography and their implications on personal and collective memory. While not offering definitive solutions, this project embraces speculative curiosity. It weaves archival material, alchemic experimentation, site-specific research, and firsthand experience in the photographic field.
The exhibition engages with ecological considerations and the paradoxical relationship between time and nostalgia inherent in photography. We question the incessant consumption of images in our daily lives and the romanticised longing for the past, while actively researching and developing alternative techniques that prioritize ecological sustainability. Utilising biodegradable and foraged materials such as rosemary, ox tongue thistles, dandelions, seaweed, vitamin C, sodium carbonate, coffee, salt, and water we share photographic developers and fixers that centre ecological sustainability.
Through our interdisciplinary collaboration, we aim to interrogate prevailing practices and narratives in photography. We acknowledge the transformative power of archiving in shaping our perception of places, people, and time. By critically examining our own practices and engaging in broader discussions surrounding photography, we seek to expand our understanding of its impact on collective memory.
We strives to foster a community that embraces alternative approaches, questions dominant aesthetic conventions, and reimagines the possibilities of photographic practice.
You are invited to join Collective Agitation, an interdisciplinary community of artists and chemists that research and share alternative photographic techniques that centre ecological sustainability.
Members will facilitate a film-developing demonstration in which participants collaboratively shoot a roll of film to be processed with a forgeable plant-based developer. All participants will receive a negative film slide and resources to replicate this process at home.
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we have built our collective practice. The Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation have been living sustainably in so-called Australia for over 60,000 years because of the First Nations People’s reciprocal connection to ancestral land as a living entity. Violent colonisation and dispossession of land and culture remain prevalent to this day. The systemic oppression of their complex epistemologies of sustainable cultural practice is an undeniable catalyst in the ecological breakdowns occurring across the continent and planet. Sovereignty was never ceded.
Collective Agitation is an interdisciplinary community of artists and chemists dedicated to researching and sharing alternative photographic techniques that prioritise ecologically sustainable considerations and innovations. Our collective brings together individuals with diverse expertise, allowing us to investigate the intersections of art, chemistry, and ecological relations. Collective Agitation is driven by a passionate and complex negotiations within photographic practice and the questions that come from deciphering meaning in a world saturated by images.
Camille Perry is an image-based artist, situated in Naarm/Melbourne. Her practice critically considers the contradictions within the materiality of art making, its imposition on stolen land and the toxicity of photographic production. Perry’s work is informed by encounters with place that continue to prompt ecological restoration projects and research-driven inquiries into Naarm’s vibrant waterways. Notions of ecological relations, permanence, time, and nostalgia are prominent themes. Material experimentation and transparency are critical points of departure.
Luca Zurich is a chemistry student living in Naarm/Melbourne who holds a BSc in Chemistry and has just begun his MSc, undertaking it in a synthetic organic chemistry group. Luca began working in a photographic lab in the past year, and as such has only recently been exposed to the vast, and confronting world of analogue photography. As a chemistry student, his eye is drawn to the more technical aspects of the work; Luca sees photography as a unique marriage of chemistry with the aesthetic and cultural importance that these processes can wield in the hands of artists. Working in a photographic lab, has exposed him to the ethically dubious side of analogue photography that many users, both past and contemporary, remain oblivious to: the abundance of waste, be it physical and chemical; the industrialisation and commercialisation of what is art and the often compromising working conditions that laboratory staff are exposed to. As a scientist who has been educated in an ecological crisis, Lucas uses his knowledge and expertise to consider sustainable innovations within photographic practice.
Lara Young is a third year science student hailing from Ngunawal country/ Canberra. Her studies in biochemistry, ecology and archaeology have consolidated a holistic perspective on the interactions of human scientific innovation with the natural and anthropological worlds. With a special interest in unconventional applications of her formal training in biological sciences and chemistry, Lara has developed a fondness for alternative chemical problem solving in analogue film. With a curiosity for the potential of collaboration in the sciences and creative arts, Lara hopes to develop and investigate further integration through work with others in these spaces.
Isabella Ford is an artist, situated in Naarm/Melbourne. Ford’s practice is founded upon a deep belief in art making as a catalyst for change making, and a vessel for communication, shared experience, storytelling and empowerment. Her practice interrogates the role art has within our current environmental crisis, and questions traditional photographic practices, their environmental impact, and relations to material and toxicity. These concerns inform a practice which seeks to uncover and develop sustainable alternatives to photographic traditions, which instead of polluting our natural environment, provide viable and exciting alternatives in which art making is not only in direct communication with the land on which it is created on, but also protects and gives back to earth.
London Alternative Photography Collective (LAPC) was founded by Melanie King in 2013, and has grown from a small group of analogue and alternative photography practitioners to a collective which produces large-scale symposiums, exhibitions and workshops. The collective is currently directed by Melanie King and Hannah Fletcher and supported by project managers; Constanza Isaza Martinez, Katrina Stamatopoulos, Martha Gray and Diego Valente.
LAPC is an open collective, which anyone can inform and work within. Open to artists who have ideas for projects, LAPC has always been about promoting the accessibility and creative possibilities of analogue and experimental photography. We aim to support practitioners who challenge traditional ways of using photography to reflect on contemporary issues and provide a platform for skill exchange. The premise of the open collective allows a wide range of artists, photographers, makers, curators and theorists to guide the activities of LAPC in a democratic way, enabling practitioners to swap ideas, skills and foster collaborations. We also have a specific interest in contemporary art which revitalises antiquated and forgotten processes, encouraging tutorials and recipes to be shared so that these processes do not die out with time.