2017, C-print, 12" x 18"
Edition of 20
Certificate of Authenticity Included
Alterations are a series of C-prints derived from a process of digital manipulation involving Soviet postcards purchased at a flea market near Kalmenson's childhood home in Saint Petersburg. The postcards contain images of 'the good life', depicting ripe fruit, flower arrangements, and happy individuals in natural settings that are meant to denote the success of the Soviet projects' construction of a high standard of living and utopic conditions. The postcards however bear the marks of error—through misaligned offset printing, faulty crops and blurred imagery—failing to image what was in many ways a constructed vision. This evidence of the failures of the mechanization of print serve as an analog to examine by extension the failure of other mechanized processes to emancipate the worker and set the conditions for a prosperous society.
Kalmenson's fascination with the way that these printing errors draw attention to the construction of images and realities in the Soviet period drew connections for him with the falsification and manipulation of photographic images under Stalin's regime of image production. For decades photographs would be altered to erase political enemies from historical images and new images were forged in an attempt to construct new histories. Using a contemporary tool of image correction and disappearance—Photoshop's Content-Aware—Kalmenson manipulated the post cards by situating the postcards in a dialectic with the absence of images, allowing the program to degrade and re-form new realities based on an algorithmic process of non-human image-making. Content-Aware's inability to distinguish subject from background and object from image leads the program to erase individuals, flowers, and berries; instead constructing free-from tonal shifts and fragments, appearing less as digital constructions than objects constructed through analog collage techniques.