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  • Writer's pictureEric Baillies

Collaboration with Faisal Abdu'Allah at MMoCA

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Right before Covid hit, I had the opportunity to work with one of the most distinguished working artists today Dr. Faisal Abdu'Allah. I had first met Faisal through working for the Chazen Museum, when he first came here from London. The Chazen was able to bring him here to Madison, who would later become Professor of Printmaking and Associate Dean for the Arts in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was named the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art in 2021.

The collaboration began with an engagement through portraiture of Faisal seen here.

(8x10" tintype)

After seeing his barber chair performance at Tandem Press I had the idea of floating his barber tools in space to elevate the tools meaning or connection to his subjects. The project started with making 5 -8x10" tintypes that went to his gallery in London the Pithanger Manor & Gallery, then onto the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

After the response he had in London, Faisal shortly after received the Andy Warhol Grant for a solo show titled Dark Matter to open at MMoCa, here in Madison. It was then that Faisal asked if we could make the images larger, in which the series of 7 -20x24" tintypes were produced all using 100% natural light and shot over a 2:1 ratio so that the objects appear 1.5-2 times their actual size. This effect is created by utilizing extension bellows, and pushing the lens 5-6 feet away from the ground glass and stopping the lens down to f/22. With those settings I was pushing the ends of what a wet plate can capture for an exposure time before the plate begins to dry out (which is the cause for a lot of the effect you see in the capture). The exposure times for these plates were in the 5-10 minute range

Six of the seven plates were ultimately selected to hang in the show, which I worked with Faisal to frame the pieces how he ultimately wanted them to hang. This project has been the largest commission to date and was a huge honor to work with Faisal.

In addition to the tintypes, I also made an 8x10" dry collodion negative of the sculpture outside titled Blu³eprint. The image below is a single transfer carbon print

(signed / edition 1/25 -8x10" carbon print of the sculpture Blu³eprint)

(insert portrait)

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