Theft mars ‘Holga’ photo exhibit

“Travels with Holga” is the title of Patricia Lemke’s new photo exhibit in the Carlson Gallery in Miller Hall. She used a simple plastic camera, called a Holga, to shoot her pictures, which she then sepia toned. / photo by Veero Der-Karabetian
“Travels with Holga” is the title of Patricia Lemke’s new photo exhibit in the Carlson Gallery in Miller Hall. She used a simple plastic camera, called a Holga, to shoot her pictures, which she then sepia toned. / photo by Veero Der-Karabetian

by Merritt Beckett
Staff Writer

The theft of a photograph has marred the opening of “Travels with Holga: Photographs with a Plastic Camera,” by Patricia Lemke, currently an exhibit in the Irene Carlson Gallery.

The photograph, a nude entitled Joshua Tree, was stolen from the gallery Wednesday evening after 8:30 p.m.

This is the first exhibit in the history of the gallery to include a photograph that contains full frontal nudity.

The picture consisted of a nude woman lying on her back with her head at the bottom of the frame and her feet at the top. The woman, a friend of Lemke, is seen from a distance lying on one of two large rocks that are separated by a deep crack. Kevin Holland, Photography Lab Coordinator, describes the missing photograph as, “the most provocative of the show, it attracted the most attention. Students that would stop and take a second look.”

Lemke, will replace the photo with a different one from her collection. The series examines the role of image making in the life of the artist.

Free from the constraints of expensive camera equipment, Lemke is able to craft the flaws introduced by her inexpensive plastic camera, called the Holga, into dream-like images that seem to be reminiscent of childhood.

The Art and Photography departments are sponsoring a lecture and reception featuring Lemke and her photographs on Thursday, Sept. 14. The lecture will begin at 5 p.m. in La Fetra Auditorium. The reception will follow from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gallery on the bottom floor of Miller Hall. The photographs will be on display through Oct. 18.

The show consists of 30 8×10 silver prints that were crafted from 120 black and white negatives. They are part of an ongoing series photographed exclusively with the Holga, a point and shoot camera with a soft-focus plastic lens that has a tendency to leak light. The artist feels that these elements combine to,“create a surrealistic image.”

Lemke, a photography teacher and curator at the Photo Center in Santa Monica, is concerned with “…a recreation of a mood I felt rather than representing a place where I had been.”

With a bachelor’s from UCLA, Lemke decided to pursue photography instead of law. Since then her photographs have been in 11 group and individual shows and is held in 10 public and private collections. She also has photographs in a permanent collection at UC San Diego.

In describing the feeling of the pictures, Gary Colby, Photography Chair and Chair of the department of Fine Arts, says, “they are like childhood memories seen through a piece of gauze.”

Merritt Beckett
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