An artwork, entitled Disconnected, comprised of pink, peach, and gray abstract photographs, and on black card stock that looks like photo album paper that was ripped out of an album.
Kimberly Hahn, Disconnected #1/3, 2016, Dimensions Variable, Epson archival Ink prints, black card stock, and ATG


An acquaintance gifted Hahn with her father’s Silver Anniversary edition Graflex camera, which as an object represented their shattered relationship. The Disconnected series unpacks this relationship and shows this in visual form while offering closure by transforming this past association into a probing work of beauty.

The father was passionate about photography and inspired his daughter to study it, but he distained contemporary and abstract methods and championed “pure” photography. Her father found her work, which he spoke derisively of, lacking in merit as it strayed from this photographic ideal and felt she was unworthy of using his prized camera. After many years of trying to build a positive relationship with her father, the daughter gave up her dreams of becoming a photographer as well as gaining her father’s respect as both a photographer and a person.

Sadly, as a clear case of “over my dead body,” her father bequeathed the camera as his only parting gift to his daughter. This camera reminded the daughter of bitter memories and became a weight, a set of heavy boxes to move around that she could not bear to open, so she sought to divest herself of the gift. At first Hahn was not sure if she was the right photographer to receive such a gift as she wouldn’t process or use the camera as a traditional photographer would. The daughter, however, felt it was the right fit.

When Hahn received the camera, she unpacked it to find film, the camera itself, a stand to turn it into a projector, film processing materials, etc. Though normally loaded film is unshot film, there was a curiosity as to whether, through development, anything might be revealed. Because this was all the daughter had left of her father, Hahn used only the remainder of her photo chemicals—some of which were weak, expired, or existed in an insufficient quantity—that were on hand to develop the film, so the chemicals were unable to reach all of the film during the development process. When the film was finished and brought into the light, the unfixed areas became murky silver-gray amorphic shapes on the aged, peachy pink film. Each of the film pieces was scanned, reproduced in print form, and placed on black paper that was ripped on the left to imitate sheets pulled out of a photo album. The works were arranged as if tossed in the air and landing at different points while cascading down the wall. The resultant installation shows a dysfunctional family’s portrait as abstract relationships that were forever up in the air, but have now found a resting place, an end.

For all his love of “pure” photography, the father lacked the ability to bring his daughter into focus, and she found closure by separating herself from the Graflex camera that represented him. She left the weight behind her by shifting that burden to someone who would not feel it. Ironically, Disconnected is soft in focus, abstract, as well as developed incorrectly, and her father’s prized camera ended up in the hands of a photographer whose focus is as far from “pure” photography as one could get.