Walead Beshty describes himself a photographer, though his practice is almost unrecognisable as such. Though he often manually develops rolls of film he has no interest in creating images in the traditional sense. Instead his work concerns itself with the relationship of the medium to the world at large and its development through political and social phenomena – the catalyst for which was the destruction of a selection of films during his passage through airport security post 9/11. As a result Walead often works with processes that mirror photography, beginning with a blank medium and allowing a variety of chance circumstances to shape the appearance of the final image.
In his FedEx series, for example, he creates glass vitrines that mirror the exact size and shape of standard shipping boxes and sends them out to his gallery, exhibiting the damaged constructions alongside their containers upon arrival. Likewise his Copper Surrogates (polished slabs of copper that clearly display the marks of their transportation and use) rely on external forces to shape the final work of art.
Though he’s updated the medium considerably since their time, Beshty’s practice very much follows in the footsteps of avant-garde greats Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy, seeming to actively challenge the state in which photography exists in the present day.
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