Jo Sandman  

In her "Light Memory" series, Jo Sandman uses altered and found x-rays to plumb the inner psyche. These mysterious images, which are sepia toned, allude to inner realms and other dimensions. Discovered in 1895 by German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen, the x-ray has long been a metaphor for spiritual concerns and what lies beyond our sight. Using a special tube developed by William Crookes (a British chemist who figured prominently in Spiritualist investigations) in one of his experiments, Roentgen was surprised when it caused a screen to fluoresce and later captured the astonishing effect on a photographic plate. Able to pass through a variety of substances, x-rays were likened to a spiritual fourth dimension as well as psychic abilities to penetrate objects and thoughts. For this other series, "Memento Mori," Sandman has been also collecting small bits of stone, lava, and coral that recall human faces, and reshaping and accentuating their features. These small carvings are then printed using the 19th century photographic process of Van Dyke Brown. The resulting photograms are mysterious and ghost-likeórecalling ethereal orbs and faces in spirit photographs.

Sandman was born and now resides in Boston. The experimental spirit of Sandman's work is consistent with her training at Black Mountain College. Recently featured in a solo show at Gallery Kayafas, Sandman's work is included in innumerable major collections such as the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Seattle Museum of Art.


Jo Sandman, Light Memory #1, Echo, 1996/2003, edition 1/5, sepia toned gelatin print, 23 x 19 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas

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Artist Statement

One day while walking the beach I began to notice and collect rocks and coral which reminded me of heads and faces. Back in the studio I shaped and drilled these "faces" to bring out their unique characteristics. I then printed them as Van Dyke Brown photograms. The direct exposure to light caused the rock to cast a pale shadow onto the darkening paper as a ghostly image. I captured not so much a visual document as a spiritual imprint. It's as if the light transformed the rock into a flame.

Another time while studying an x-ray I had had taken, I became intrigued with the image stripped bare of skin and muscle. The veil concealing the body was lifted. As I photographed and re-photographed a number of x-rays, the images became free of their diagnostic aspect. The same physical structures, the same bones, kept reappearing. At the same time, there were striking variations: exposes of individual anomalies thrust upon us by fate, time and genetics. The shared and individual characteristics point to our commonality and our uniqueness.

Copyright © 2002, Photographic Resource Center, Inc.