Lunagrams by Lisa Oppenheim

For this blog post I decided to do some more research on Lisa Oppenheim as the presentation on her and her work caught my attention. She is very well known for pieces like The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere else (2006) and her Smoke series where she uses photos from various places like the photo sharing website Flickr. The idea of using found photos is very interesting to me so I wanted to look into more of her works. At the library I found the book Lisa Oppenheim: Works 2003-2013, and in it I found some other photos of interest in which she also used found footage. Her Lunagrams from 2010 specifically caught my eye.

Lisa Oppenheim, Lunagrams, 2010. Unique toned silver gelatin photographs exposed with moonlight. 40 X 50 cm.


In her Lunagrams Oppenheim merges old with new and folds time in on itself to create her beautiful silver-toned ‘lunagrams’ of the moon. Like with The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere else (2006) and her Smoke series Oppenheim surprisingly does sort of use found photography to create these photos. Oppenheim uses nineteenth-century glass plate negatives of the moon by John William Draper to create her Lunagrams.

Oppenheim takes the glass-plate negatives and creates a large-format negative of it then places it on photographic paper. Afterwards she exposes it to the light of the moon in the same lunar phase as Drapers original then she silver-tones it before fixing it. By letting her photo of the moon be exposed by moonlight of the same phase Oppenheim is essentially letting the moon create a self-portrait. That aspect along with the silver-tone and the subject of the moon itself gives the photos a very mystical feeling in my opinion

Source: Oppenheim, Lisa, et al. Lisa Oppenheim : Works 2003-2013. Berlin : Sternberg ; 2014.