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Paris Parks Exhibit

Michael Kolster
June 12 – July 14, 2018
Reception Saturday, June 16, 7-9pm

In his exhibit, Michael Kolster, is partly inspired by the work of Eugene Atget, he photographed in four Parisian Parks: St. Cloud, Parc de Sceaux, Montsouris, and Bois de Boulogne.

The images move between series of ordered (imposed) textures to groups of increasingly tangles of forms (entropic) and back, like pieces of music that at moments are overtly composed and at others overheard in the wind.

Parks and gardens are the embodiment of the paradoxical human desire to shape and commune with the natural world: to maintain the illusion that we can master our environment, and, conversely, to be reminded that we are only a part of the larger web of life.

Atget’s work in the parks spanned a few decades, mostly from the first to the middle of the third decade of the twentieth century, right up until his death. He worked with outmoded glass plates even though lighter flexible film was an option. He returned multiple times to photograph different views of the parks for over twenty years.

Like Atget’s work, Kolsters photographs record these parks at the edges of disarray and explore the intersection between the fallen and the resurgent. In these places much of the fallen seems associated with expired human aspirations and various flora assert their characteristic drive to adapt or take over where we have left off.

These photographs reference the pleasures and pitfalls of wandering alone amongst plants, with the knowledge that civilization is only a short step away. Still, moments of feeling lost, with the ensuing exhilaration and shortness of breath, can be realized: where nothing seems familiar and the threat of annihilation and the promise of rebirth commingle.

The photographs have been made with materials many consider these days to be outdated: rolls of 120 black-and-white silver gelatin film and an electronic strobe powered by a lead battery.


Michael Kolster, a 2013 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, teaches at Bowdoin College and lives in Maine with his wife, Christy Shake, and son, Calvin.

Kolster's TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, a 240-page book, was published in November, 2016, by George Thompson Publishing. Take Me to the River features triton reproductions of 185 of his ambrotypes of four rivers and essays by curator Alison Nordström and environmental historian Matthew Klingle. Take Me to the River has been reviewed by Photographers Forum and PhotoEye Books and the project has been featured in Oxford American's Eyes on the South, and as the daily image in the "Don't Take Pictures" blog.

In recent years he has mounted solo exhibitions at The American University of Paris, Schroeder Romero & Shredder Gallery in New York City; the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine; Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, VA; 621 Gallery in Tallahassee, FL; the College of Southern Maryland; SRO Gallery at Texas Tech in Lubbock; and Space Gallery and PhoPa Gallery in Portland, Maine. Loupe, the Journal of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University and Memorious published portfolios of his river photographs in 2013.

An earlier project similarly concerned with land use policy and its implications, entitled Changing Places, depicted changes in Las Vegas, San Francisco and New Orleans over a 10-year time span. In 2009 a 23-image portfolio from Changing Places was acquired for the permanent collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography in Rochester, NY. Work from the same series was featured in Consilience - The Journal of Sustainability, published through Columbia University.

Since 2002 Michael has maintained a website, The Daily Post, to which he posts a photograph everyday (

He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has lived in Rochester, New York; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Boston, Massachusetts; and San Francisco, California. He holds a BA in American Studies from Williams College, an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, and a certificate from the full-time Documentary Photography program at the International Center of Photography in New York City.