"For a photographer like myself, who in fact has not worked in a darkroom for more than twenty years, these images are horribly familiar. Those fix stains in the sink, the eerie red light, reminiscent of a brothel, the wonky enlarger and a profusion of different tapes holding the whole thing together... I feel lucky to have escaped and yet there is something very alluring about these images..." —Martin Parr
This photograph by the Canadian artist Michel Campeau, featured on the cover of Aperture magazine (issue 188 – Fall 2007), depicts the small, topography of private spaces which his series Darkroom 2005-2006 is comprised. He photographs over seventy-five darkrooms in his native Canada at close range. The resulting images are simple yet strong graphic depictions of an increasingly disappearing environment. Any one who has ever worked in such a space will immediately resonate with the feeling of intimate nostalgia for the photographic processes and the spaces in which they were practiced.
The artist notes that this series of work shines a spotlight on "the bric-a-brac of plumbing and electricity, the ventilation-system engines, the posted iconography, the weirdness of 'planets' envisioned at the bottom of chemical trays, the splattering of silver salts, the wear of equipment and the countdown of timers that defies the disappearance of the panchromatic spectre." As these spaces increasingly give way to the rise of digital photography, we are almost hit with the same sense as if we were looking at some sort of endangered species. Here, we see a detail from the darkroom of the photographer Michael Flomen.
Michel Campeau (born in 1948) is a contemporary photographer exploring the subjective, narrative, and ontological dimensions of the medium. The recipient of numerous research and artistic creation grants, Michel Campeau was awarded the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec’s Jean-Paul-Riopelle Career Grant for 2009–2010. In 2010, he received the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography given by the Canada Council for the Arts. His work has been the topic of many monographs and articles, and is included in major museum and institutional collections. He lives and works in Montréal, and is represented by Montréal’s Galerie Simon Blais.