Mark and Kristen Sink present a new body of work at the Robin Rice Gallery on 16 January until 24 February. Only their second photography exhibition, their intriguing images blur faces, sharpen eyes and crinkle petals in subjects that appear to have fallen out of a Victorian-era fairytale. In order to create works with a bold vintage effect, the husband and wife utilised one of the oldest techniques in photographic history: the collodion wet plate process. This is a laborious method where the error of the human hand renders each piece a unique expression of beauty.
Previously working in Polaroid portraiture in the 1980s and 1990s, Sink was drawn to the collodion method for the instant and spontaneous result. But unlike the more controlled Polaroid, collodian’s wet plate provides a more “free and messy” execution. This old process requires photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within approximately fifteen minutes. Although it is inconvenient, it gives its photographs a romantic quality. Sink’s great grandfather, James L. Breese was a notorious portrait photographer of New York high society, and he has influenced the couple significantly, primarily in his desire to capture beauty on film.
The images displayed in New Work are presented in two ways, the larger 30″ x 40″ photographs are mounted on aluminum as varnished prints with no glass, which distinguishes them from the smaller 5″ x 6″ and 8″ x 10″ tintypes and ambrotypes. Many of the photographs focus on nude women in a celebration of nature and beauty. The stunning nudes brush erotic boundaries but still remain romantic. Mark credits Kristen as the perfect counterpoint to the male gaze, “She helps me take pictures from a female’s eye…Sometimes I’ll be working and working to get a shot just right but I’m not satisfied, then Kristen will walk in, take one shot and it’s amazing.”
The husband and wife team balance their roles between Art Director and Photographer to maintain balance but combined, their work presents a dreamy world where romance is still possible in modern photography.
Mark and Kristen Sink: New Work, 16 January until 27 February, Robin Rice Gallery, 325 West 11th Street, New York City, 10014.
All images courtesy of the Robin Rice Gallery and Mark and Kristen Sink.
1. Amanda and Poppy Pods 2011.
2. Brittney with Tea Cup 2011.
3. Sonja Day 1 2011.
4. Still Life 2012.
5. Swayback 2010.