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Comment by Resident Curator on October 9, 2023 at 12:59pm

Thanks for the backstory behind this work.  I had no idea the process was normally so labor intensive. I'm glad to know this plant was the last of the season rather than a dystopian survival! The table looks as though it has a history.  I find the contrast between the utilitarian surface to be a wonderful foil against the delicate roots.

It's funny that you mention Polaroid. I was at a party recently where a friend's teenage son took my picture with his new Polaroid camera. They're tiny things- and come out of the camera looking like a photobooth picture. 

Comment by Joseph Deiss on October 8, 2023 at 4:49pm

The red pepper in the image, as well as the pepper plant were the last of the season. When I pulled up the plant, and the roots came up with it, I couldn’t leave well enough alone; so I took it into the studio, suspended it above the table, shook out the dirt onto the table, set up my 8x10 Deardorff, poured and developed the plate all within less than 2 hours; for me this was incredibly fast! I usually take days if not weeks to set up an image before I expose a plate. The steel welding table was made by my father in the late 1950’s, and I’ve used it until a few years ago when my son rightfully claimed it. To be fair, he made another for me… with the exception of a few still-life images I’ve made in the last dozen-and-a-half or so years, all have been made on the steel tables, and when my 8x10 Polaroid supply ended, I fell into collodion wet-plates as my medium of choice.

Comment by Resident Curator on October 8, 2023 at 4:06pm

Curator’s Comments:

Welcome back to the site!  I was delighted to see you respond with a new work, and true to the nature of your others, the mood is of aching beauty.  The Last Red Pepper, uprooted to expose its bare roots, takes on a ghostly quality.  It appears to have a similar studio set-up as the photograph entitled Garlic Scapes, as the silvery- white leaves exquisitely contrast the dark background.  (I love the series titled "Not so Still Lifes). But rather than a solid black backdrop, faint rays of light warm the area above and imply a light source beyond the viewer and the picture plane. This enhances the ethereal quality of the image, which could otherwise be presented as a familiar specimen. I also enjoy the rustic simplify of the table below.  The rough and humble construction contrasts the presence of the profane with the sublime. But the title hints at a more tragic gulf between forces of dark and light beyond the cycle of the seasons, if the pepper plant in front of us is somehow the last.

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