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We’re featuring what our Issue 15 guest editors have been up to since the issue was released at Paris Photo in November 2022. Each of our 50 guest editors on the issue selected an image by an artist from our international open call to feature in a spread next to an image of their own in Issue 15. To see their work in the issue, order your copy. Our guest editor Janelle Lynch’s work is made with an 8x10-inch view camera, which supports an embodied, contemplative working method that exalts the very act of seeing itself. While Lynch photographed exclusively in the landscape for the first two decades of her career, her practice has expanded to include environmental portraiture, still life, and cyanotypes. All of her work since 2015 is informed by her training beginning that year in drawing and painting. Hereby, we are sharing Lynch’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful series today, September 30th to celebrate World Cyanotype Day 2023.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is an ongoing series of cyanotypes and black and white large-format photographs Janelle Lynch began in Fall 2022. Created during extended periods of solitude in Amagansett, New York along the Atlantic Ocean, the work is rooted in the artist’s “abiding belief in the interconnectedness and fundamental value of all life forms—human, plant, and animal—and in art as a humanizing force of healing and survival.” Following this belief is Lynch’s “deep commitment to honor and protect life—to care for it with the reverence it inherently deserves—and to inspire such values” through her work.
Lynch does this by making records of life—cyanotyping it—regardless of what and where it is in the life cycle. With treated paper and touch, she cyanotypes osprey wings, a deceased fox, and her own body combined with botanicals. Through these methods of creation, she asserts our shared atomic essence as a call for unity and respect in our world. She also states that, “while whole species evolve, we also evolve as individuals and are each capable of transformation. To engender change, we must return to a fundamental appreciation for ourselves, each other, and our world.”
The bluish tones deriving from the ferric components used in the cyanotype process allow our gaze to diverge from the instant reflex to seize recognizable forms to name and define. Thus, what stands out are the ethereal shades of blue, chemical compounds recording the presence of organic matter making kin and extending beyond what can be perceived by vision. Through overlapping, movements during exposure, and light passing through or around objects, Lynch’s artworks are a collaborative outcome created by organic forms. These are silent images, yet animated by the power of inner lives. Lynch’s cyanotypes appear to give insight into the hidden frequencies coming from living bodies.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a recording of a world existing beyond the denotative dimension of forms. Taking the cue from early history of cameraless photography pioneers such as Sir John Hirschel and Anna Atkins, Lynch’s works delve deep into the mystical dimension intrinsic to photography and image making, thus the impression of that which is not there but once was, in their full ephemerality. Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a poem to transience; a love letter to blue. Lynch borrowed the title of the body of work from the last lines of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. She writes, “While his theories are rooted in the material world of atoms and molecules, the words can also allude to transformation of self, of life, the afterlife, of what might exist beyond the material world.”
In June 2023, Flowers Gallery opened a critically-acclaimed solo exhibition of the work in London, which included twelve cyanotypes. Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum wrote an essay about the work and said: “Her practice embraces a form of close looking that is cumulative, enriching and transformative. The visual elegance of her images is equalled by the expressive presence of the artist that we sense behind them.” During the exhibition, the short documentary film by Mia Allen, Janelle Lynch: Endless Forms Most Beautiful, premiered. It includes footage of Lynch creating the cyanotypes in Amagansett and interviews of the artist discussing the work. Flowers Gallery will show the work at Paris Photo in November 2023.