Through her one-of-a-kind camera-less photograms, Academy Award-winning artist Zana Briski offers viewers a synthesis of art and the natural world, immersing viewers in the realm of wild creatures within their native habitats. The resulting images are a record of the artist’s extraordinary animal encounters, all captured without the reliance on a conventional camera amidst the backdrop of nocturnal woodlands.

Briski’s ingenious process embraces the serendipitous interplay of uncontrollable and unpredictable factors. With meticulous preparation, Briski delves into a detailed study of her subjects’ natural habitats, forging an intimate connection with their daily routines and the paths they traverse through the wilderness. The artist ventures into wild and remote locations on moonless nights, strategically positioning expansive sheets of light-sensitive photographic paper. In the presence of these majestic animals, she patiently awaits their appearances in complete darkness, at times enduring long, hushed vigils. When a wild inhabitant crosses the paper’s path, she captures a fleeting exposure using a small hand-held flash, ensuring the creature remains undisturbed. The exposed paper is then carefully rolled and stored until Zana Briski later develops each life-size image in the darkroom and only then discovers if a successful image is created. To imbue an additional layer of depth and enhance image permanence, Briski enriches the resulting photogram by gold toning the print.

When successful, the uncontrollable and unpredictable factors fall into place and a singularly unique and otherworldly life-size image of wild creatures directly imprint onto photographic paper. Zana Briski aligns herself with the heritage of unveiling the imperceptible. In this realm, there exists no photographic negatives and each image stands alone in its uniqueness. Briski’s Animalograms serve as spectral offerings and invite us to contemplate the beauty and fragility of the natural world through her unique perspective.

For more information, visit the Robert Koch Gallery.