I am interested in how the photograph is also recognized less as a window on the “real,” and far more as a malleable picture space—constructed and contrived for the purpose of examining representation rather than reality. I am interested in the potential of photography to tell a story.
Patrick Nagatani (1945 – 2017) was an artist committed to investigating the possibilities of photographic technology. Employing hand-coloring, multiple printings, and constructed scenarios, Nagatani built his photographic narratives through props, careful direction, and image manipulation. In addition to challenging the “truth” associated with photography, he touched on social, cultural, and personal issues, including nuclear power, myth-making, Chromatherapy, Japanese Americans, and the self.
A former faculty member at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Nagatani obtained his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in Hollywood special effects for some time on movies such as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He was encouraged toward photography through a college drawing class. He went from creating photographic, technically precise drawings to understanding the emotional power available through photography-based image making.
RAM was gifted over 30 works by Nagatani in 2022. Comprised of pieces spanning multiple decades—specifically 1977 – 2006—the archive features various types of photographs, including 20 x 24 Polaroid prints created with a relatively rare Polaroid camera. This exhibition debuts selections from the archive in stages—consecutively showcasing the Nagatani/Ryoichi Excavations Series, Chromatherapy Series, and works related to nuclear power.