Pictures, Unfixed

Phil Chang

November 19, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Opening Saturday, November 19, 2022 
The Fulcrum is pleased to present Pictures, Unfixed, an exhibition of new photograph by Phil Chang. Chang began producing unfixed photographs in 2009 as a response to the financial collapse that occurred in the previous year. He was interested in making photographs that were unstable and began using jargon from the industries of financ and insurance as a way to conceive of the precarious nature of both the economy and his photographs: words such as risk, reward, loss, gain, stability, protection, and hedge were ubiquitous in the media’s interpretation of the economic and social crises that led to the “Great Recession.” These words were also familiar in the art world at large in descriptions of collecting art as either a cultural artifact or an economic investment, or both. In 2022, these terms are still useful in understanding how the durational quality of Chang’s works allows it to function as both ephemeral and as toxic.

As the world enters a new era of disarray and peril, Chang was compelled to respond with a new iteration of this archivally unstable work. An array of photographic conventions are on view including landscapes, instances of the gig economy, appropriated imagery, portraits, and computer screenshots that fade in the very same light that is necessary to view them. The photographs are produced by making a contact print from an 8 x 10 inch negative that is laid on top of expired Kodak Kodabrome II RC paper. Rather than develop the prints in the darkroom chemistry that “fixes” the imagery into place on the paper, the photographs are only exposed to light and then left “unfixed” in their frames. This allows for a durational process to occur: the images slowly disappear over time. Because the expired paper’s sensitivity to light has been greatly diminished through age, each photograph initially depicts a legible subject and then gradually transforms to a maroon monochrome over the course of five hours. Each photograph is presented under Optium acrylic and window mats in a 16x 20 inch brushed aluminum frame that is manufactured by Halbe. Chang worked with Paradise Framing to develop this current presentation including the light protective boxes that enclose each work until viewing commences. Each frame has a removable backing that allows for replenishing the photographs as their imagery disappears during the exhibition.

Phil Chang received his MFA from The California Institute of the Arts and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. Solo exhibitions include M+B (2022, 2017, and 2014), The Suburban (2019), Praz-Delavallade (2015), The California Museum of Photography (2015), and LAXART (2012). Chang’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Eastman Museum, and Transformer Station. His work has been written about in Artforum, The New Yorker, the Los
Angeles Times,, and has appeared in Aperture, Blind Spot, Photography Is Magic, and The Photograph as Contemporary Art. Chang’s publications include Four Over One, an artist’s book published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with Jonathan Maghen. Chang’s academic appointments include California
State University, Bakersfield, the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Otis College of Art & Design, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Phil Chang lives and works in Los Angeles.