Jason Lazarus - Heinecken Studies (2010)
“Lazarus’s super-saturated color fields are sprinkled with the cremated remains of the late artist Robert Heinecken, on first glance resembling star systems photographed in deep space.”
From an interview with the artist by Forrest Martin:
FM: When most people first look through the magazine, they assume these images are telescopic visions of space and star clusters. In fact, they’re photograms of a man’s ashes. Can you explain what photograms are, and why this seemed like the best thing to do with a salt shaker full of incinerated flesh and bone?
JL: Photograms are simply photographic paper that has been exposed to something other than a projected negative image. After struggling for a long time with how to work with the ashes, it became obvious that the process was the most appropriate way to pay homage to Heinecken because of his distinctive commitment to this particular way of creating imagery.
I decided to create a series of photograms where each image was a response to the photogram made before it. The first photogram is solid cyan, and each one that follows is some variation color filtration, time, multiple light sources, multiple exposures, and burning/dodging.
This loop from creation and experimentation to assessment and creation again seemed to me the answer to respecting the spirit in his many years of making photographic works.
The series of 25 images was made in one sitting at Columbia College Chicago. It felt important to not break the creative process once I started.
FM: When handling Robert’s cremains for this project, did you treat them in any special way?
JL: Yes and no. At first I was literally trembling when opening the salt shaker. It was a great moment to reconcile myself with not only a great photographer, but mortality as a physical material in my hand. In the complete blackness of the color darkroom and once you get into a groove, the material ends up spreading out around your work area, getting on your clothes — there’s no way to avoid it. The working process became about gaining familiarity and comfort with the texture and feel of the material rather than fetishizing it.