Andrew Norman Wilson
for Paris Avant-Première
47 bis, rue Ramponeau, 75020 Paris
Friday October 12th, 2018
Andrew Norman Wilson, KODAK, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
"I didn't invent photography—I invented popular photography. I created a new class of consumers ... My cameras allowed the world to smile."
"Kodak hired my father straight out of college in 1976 to work in their film processing labs. One year prior, a Kodak employee had invented the first digital camera. In 2012 Kodak went bankrupt, and today operates at a fraction of its former scale. Over the course of my father's 30+ year career with the company, he worked amongst blind people who were hired to handle film in the dark due to their heightened tactile sense. Rich, the protagonist of this video, is a hybrid of my father and an imagined character who worked in film processing at Kodak until a workplace accident left him blind. He then started working in the dark, packaging film with other blind Kodak employees until they were laid off as the company lurched towards bankruptcy. When we catch up with Rich, he's been unemployed for ten years and seems to be gradually losing his mental faculties. He spends his time in the Rochester public library, shuttling back and forth through copies of tape recordings that Kodak founder George Eastman made near the end of his life in 1930. The story is told through Rich's point of view."
—Andrew Norman Wilson
Invoking the terms of labor in the context of art, and in relation to the history of photography in particular, inevitably conjures the tradition of documentary realism: sharp portraits of workers and machines, scientistic clarity, and an optimism (however conditional) toward the photographic apparatus's ability to puncture and expose the veiled realities of the modern world. While this is a mode that Wilson has used in past work, KODAK, despite its sustained engagement with the Eastman & Kodak archives, looks nothing like this. The work is propelled by a pulse of murky archival vignettes which emerge from the void, blending the corporate archive with snapshots from Wilson's family's photo albums (in reality, the Wilsons are themselves subjects of Kodak's success, as well as its post-digital collapse), set to a script that pulls more from Samuel Beckett than from Frederick Wiseman. It substitutes the delirium of subjectivity for the sobriety of evidence; it proffers associative leaps, rather than denotative capture. It is an affective investigation of histories both industrial and personal, and rather than telling these stories through prim, technocratic exposition, it instead churns up a miasma of fiction, phantasm, and poetics.
—Excerpts from Nick Irvin's essay "Minions Of The Sun" published for the premiere of KODAK in Andrew Norman Wilson's show at Krieg, Hasselt, Belgium, in October 2018
Andrew Norman Wilson is a Los Angeles-based artist. Recent and forthcoming exhibitions include KODAK, Krieg, Hasselt (2018); I Was Raised on The Internet, MCA Chicago (2018); Picture Industry, LUMA Arles (2018); Dreamlands, Whitney Museum of American Art (2016); the Gwangju Biennial (2016); the Berlin Biennial (2016); Art Post Internet, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2014); Scars of Our Revolution, Yvon Lambert, Paris (2014); Image Employment, MoMA PS1, New York (2013).