A selection of works by Dove Allouche hanging on display at the CAG

BITS – Negative Capability by Dove Allouche

In ALL, BITS by Alice Fleerackers

Ambrotypes, heliogravures, and photolithographs—artist Dove Allouche seems to have a passion for long words and complex photographic techniques. His latest exhibit, Negative Capability, is on at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC, until December 30 and features a stunning and varied array of works.

Allouche expressed a desire to “make visible that which otherwise remains unseen, hidden or buried” and this comes through in his photographs. With more than twenty pieces spanning 2009-2018, the exhibition offers a thought-provoking look at the natural world, providing a new view of stalagmites, mineral deposits, ancient spores, and more.

A selection of works from Negative Capability is featured below. More information about the exhibit is available from the Contemporary Art Gallery’s website.

Four square colour photographs of fungi, mostly green, yellow, and orange
Dove Allouche, Fungi (2016) series, installation view from Negative Capability, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28 – December 30, 2018. Photography by SITE Photography

Fungi (2016) is a depiction of a species of spores taken from the Museum of Natural History in Paris, which predate human presence on earth. By blowing them through a pipette onto plates, Allouche fostered their growth, and, at a particular point in their development, photographed them.

four images of organic calcite formations
Dove Allouche, Perle (2018) series, installation view from Negative Capability, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28 – December 30, 2018. Photography by SITE Photography
A close up of two of the Perle photographs. A white fungal shape in a silky black pool
Dove Allouche, Perle (2018) series, installation view from Negative Capability, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28 – December 30, 2018. Photography by SITE Photography

The newest body of work in the exhibition, Perle (2018), presents organic forms of calcite formed and found in shallow cave pools. Allouche’s “cave pearls” were sliced into thin films, polished and used as photographic negatives.

Copper coloured frames laid out on a table.
Dove Allouche, Deversoirs d’orage (2009) series, installation view from Negative Capability, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28 – December 30, 2018. Photography by SITE Photography

Deversoirs d’orage (2009) is a series of fourteen heliogravures on paper taken of the Paris sewer system, revealing a man-made subterranean world that slowly evolved through two centuries of mineral deposits. The heliogravure is the oldest procedure for producing photographic images and involves a photochemical process to etch an image into a copper plate which is then heated to fuse resin dust to the metal.

Several black and white square photographs of caves are laid out on a white table
Dove Allouche, Pétrifiantes II (2014), installation view from Negative Capability, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28 – December 30, 2018. Photography by SITE Photography

Les petrifiantes II (2014) is a series of ambrotypes taken inside natural cave structures. The ambrotype (or collodion positive process) was invented in the mid-nineteenth century and briefly replaced the daguerreotype in popularity until the tintype was introduced. Each ambrotype is a unique original, created by exposing a plate coated in iodized collodion and dipped in silver nitrate. These images of stalactites and stalagmites are created by taking long exposures inside the caves and developed in complete darkness, capturing the slow process of petrification that produced the pictured specimens.

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Alice Fleerackers

Alice is a researcher and lab manager at the ScholCommLab, Vancouver. She holds a master’s in Publishing from Simon Fraser University (SFU), a bachelor’s in Psychology and English Literature from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and hopes to pursue a PhD in Communication at SFU in Fall 2019. A writer and editor, Fleerackers has worked in research, book publishing, journalism, and marketing communications. In both her academic work and her writing, she is passionate about bringing research into everyday life. As a journalist at SAD Mag, she’s had the pleasure of interviewing media specialists, psychologists, anthropologists, and others on everything from cat videos to astrology. Twitter: @FleerackersA