Since the early 1990s, Liz Deschenes (b. 1966, Boston) has made the medium of photography the subject of her work, exploring the meaning inherent in its materials. “Her work is characterized not by a single technology, method, process or subject, but rather by a sustained engagement with the fundamental materials of photography (light, chemistry, and time) and the mechanics of viewing,” writes Eva Respini.
In early series such as Elevations, Deschenes focused on the significance of color, using the dye transfer process to produce prints in shades of green and brown that reference the information encoded in topographical maps. In her Green Screen series, Deschenes took as her subject the brightly colored screens used in film and video production and special effects, making monochromatic photographs that call attention to a usually invisible technology, and blur the line between photograph and object.
More recently Deschenes has worked with photograms, exposing photographic paper to moonlight or sunlight and processing it by hand to create silvery surfaces with a range of tones and textures. Installed in carefully designed configurations, these works take on a sculptural quality, reflecting the space and the viewer in their shiny surface and changing over time as the chemical oxidation process continues.
Deschenes has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts; and Secession, Vienna.
Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Institute of Chicago; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, among others.