Image: Jean Curran. From "The Vertigo Project," 2018. 20" x 24" dye transfer print. Edition of 10.
BY: Jes Zurell
Jean Curran witnessed firsthand the dark facets of humanity as an Irish photojournalist in Kenya. The tempered patience and endurance she developed during her years working for Agence France Presse groomed her for her next great conquest: creating dye transfer process photographs from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film, Vertigo.
Kodak formulated the dye transfer process during the 1930s, and it’s remained largely unchanged since then. It takes ages to achieve one good print, but it’s the best way to achieve a still image from video film, especially if that film is several decades old, a bit delicate, and well-loved by its cult following. Curran dubbed her undertaking “The Vertigo Project” and it was picked up by Danziger Gallery in New York. The show remains on view through February 1. The magnetism of Curran’s prints fortifies their presence. She establishes precise moods in each shot, and regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the film, there’s no room for misinterpretation.
When you look at each photograph, you’re likely to feel the pull of a mysterious blonde in a tailored skirt suit. We’re willing to bet she’s wearing Chanel No. 5 on the nape of her neck. The businessman in grey speaks in absolutes and wears calluses on his palms. The two of them in a room together sparks fear, drama, and the kind of curiosity usually reserved for wreckage.
Take a look at these pieces from the show, and if you’re thinking of watching Hitchcock’s original film before you look at Curran’s still photographs, remember that a good lover always lets a lady finish first.