Exhibition: The Death of the Alchemist – Michael Prior

Exhibition: The Death of the Alchemist – Michael Prior

Chronicling the photographer’s passage toward the void.

‘Photography is a medium much practised but seldom explored. In the mainstream, the photographer concerns his/herself with recording the intersection of visible space and time which together add up to a ‘moment’. They curate and present their world as it is experienced at the surface.

Photography, however, has the potential to offer a vision into the incredible world beyond the visible spectrum. It can function outside the limitations of comfort and understanding. Its jurisdiction spans from gamma rays to the infrared, it can image the invisible and is not constrained by our narrow conception of time.

This exciting realm is that of photographic alchemy.’


Fox Darkroom & Gallery. Kensington. Victoria. 16 February – 3 March 2019

Michael Prior in 2007 with 8×10 camera. Photograph by David Tatnall. 

Michael Prior is a photo-alchemist. Master of his technique, in silver-halides he paints the very fabric of mortality. His work teases out elements of the cosmos which are invisible to the naked eye. His self-portraits, taken over many years, reveal celestial phantoms and bodily decay.

The Death of the Alchemist documents the ‘effects of advanced myeloma on a photographer’s body’. It utilises lenseless, infrared, instant and extreme-durational imaging techniques going back to the earliest photographic methods to create a set of chilling self-portraits. The process of his own death is here suspended in gelatin.

The work is presented in a limited edition hand crafted book with text by Michael Prior and Emeritus Professor of English Richard Freadman. It is endorsed by Ralph Gibson and will be introduced by Alex Syndikas. The book is hand-bound by Nikola Doslov of Rennaissance Bindery, and printed by Daniel Bornstein. Typesetting and layout by Nicola Hardy. The launch will be accompanied by an exhibition of prints from the series as well as other photo-alchemical works by Michael Prior.

Main photograph: Self portrait Michael Prior


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David Tatnall is an Australian fine art photographer & editor of View Camera Australia.

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