El Fuego from Óyeme Con Los Ojos photogravure

Josephine’s New Tintype Series to Premier at NOMA

January 8, 2015

Salutations on exhibit at NOMA January 23 – April 5th, 2015.  To view the series.

“NOMA premiers the newest body of work by Josephine Sacabo (American, b. 1944). In Salutations, Sacabo combines collaged and distorted photographic images with a wet collodion on metal process that dates back to the 19th century to create a world that is barely recognizable as such, hovering like a memory or a dream in the space between the concrete and the ineffable.


Throughout the work, half-materialized visions of certain elements appear and reappear—an apple, a bird, a window, the female form—as if to suggest some kind of narrative is buried under the layers of fractured representation. But the project as a whole resists any linear reading, and instead concerns itself with establishing an enigmatic set of conditions—loss, solitude, melancholy, nostalgia, etc.—that create a space for interpretation. In other words, rather than tell any particular story, these works set the stage for a number of potential stories that hinge upon these broader concepts. In balancing on the threshold between the real and the surreal, these images favor the poetic over the prosaic and the symbolic over the literal.”    – Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, NOMA

Sacabo explains, “I am so honored that the New Orleans Museum of Art has chosen to present my newest body of work. This medium is a huge departure for me and I’d like to share a couple of my thoughts on this wondrous tintype process.

First I want to express my deep gratitude to the wonderful photographer S. Gayle Stevens who was the first person to tell me that it was possible to make tintypes of pre-existing negatives. That was the golden key for me. A year and a lot of experimenting later, and with the invaluable help of my assistant Meg Turner, Salutations was created.

To loneliness, the reef, the star
To anything that has come to earn
The blank white canvas of our care.    – Mallarmé

For the first time I became enchanted by a process and that was the motivation as opposed to a literary text. This was not about a narrative but about an image becoming an object, encased as in glass, permanent and solemn. I became enthralled by the beauty of the surface. I have often shot objects in a mirror but in this it’s as though you are experiencing them not ‘in’ a mirror but ‘as’ a mirror. No longer a reflection but a fact. Their form is that of a retablo–those magnificent expressions of gratitude on tin.

Ultimately these are my expressions of gratitude to my subjects–on a mirrored substrate, meant to outlast the fleeting perceptions at their core.”