Christine Elfman’s photographs embody the temporal wane of objects, images, and memory. Color slips from the surface of paper, subjects become shadows, recognition fades into lore. Using the anthotype process, her images develop slowly: sitting outside for a month, the sun bleaches paper saturated with light-sensitive plant dyes.
Once complete, these photographs will continue to fade from the light that allows them to be seen. When paired with fixed silver gelatin prints, these images emphasize a tension between the archival impulse and ephemerality of photography and the subjects themselves.
Over time, objects and images become evidence of nothing but the impossible desire for permanence.
Emphasizing the tension between recognition and entropy, the works offer a rare opportunity to witness the constant cycle of growth and decay, as the images are continuously made anew as they decline. While the gaze of the viewer witnesses the gradual destruction of the image, the photographs begin to mimic the shape-shifting apparitions of recollection and reminiscence.
Elfman received her MFA in Photography from California College of the Arts and BFA in Painting from Cornell University. Recent solo exhibition venues include: Ithaca College, University of the Arts, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco. Elfman's interest in ephemerality has been influenced by her work with historic collections at the George Eastman House, University of Rochester Rare Books Library, and the Berkeley Art Museum. Awards and fellowships include the San Francisco Artist Award, the Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship, and artist residency at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her work has appeared in: The San Francisco Chronicle, Photograph Magazine, SF Weekly, The Photo Review, Christopher James Book of Alternative Processes. She teaches photography and drawing at Cornell University.