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Some Recent Apparitions: Andy Mattern

January 16 – March 23, 2024


Hiding on the backs of some long-forgotten photographs are “ghost” images, faint traces of other pictures that pressed up against the surface. If left in direct contact for decades, a platinum print has the uncanny ability to make a mirror version of itself — even multiple times, without being depleted. Platinum is considered the most permanent of all photographic processes, however, it fell out of use around World War I because it was required to make explosives. This destructive ability of platinum is the same power that inadvertently creates ghost images.


Inspired that hidden photographs are out there reproducing themselves, Andy Mattern searched the backs of thousands of old pictures in antique malls, flea markets, and secondhand shops. Rather than display these found objects directly, his intention is to follow their lead to make a new kind of portrait, to reconstitute the ghosts. Mattern rephotographs and reworks the found images, coaxing the ghosts to the surface. When he feels they have arrived, he creates a new platinum print. This reanimates the cycle, breathing life back into the long-forgotten images and providing them with another chance to reproduce.


We tend to take photographs at face value, accepting them as static documents, as proof that this person existed. But how do we understand portraits that do not sit still, that jump from page to page, leaving their residue behind? What does their activity reveal? Like photography, the ghost images are magic, they are photographs made by other photographs. Andy Mattern sees them as a reminder of our flawed attempts at permanence — the things we make, however precious, inevitably take on lives of their own.

Faculty Artist Andy Mattern, Associate Professor of Photography, Oklahoma State University | @AndyMattern

Guest Curator | Scott Stulen, CEO/President of Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Related Events


Enjoy the art of "Some Recent Apparitions" and light refreshments.

January 31 | 5 – 7 PM


Creative Writing Workshop

Channel your artistic expression through words at a two-part workshop exploring ekphrastic writing!

WORKSHOP | February 21 | 6 – 8 PM

PUBLIC READING | March 9 | 2 – 4 PM

Register | Flyer

Film Screening

Connecting with the exhibition’s themes of formalism and the fragility of archives, the OSUMA & OSU Film Society will present a free screening of Bill Morrison's Decasia at Modella Gallery.

March 6 | 8 PM @ Modella Gallery, 721 S. Main, Stillwater

Flyer | Trailer

Artist Talk: Andy Mattern in Conversation

Join Andy Mattern for a conversation with Philbrook CEO / President Scott Stulen about his unique photographic practice, influences, and his current exhibition Some Recent Apparitions.

March 15 | 6:30 PM @ Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S Rockford Rd, Tulsa, OK

Learn More & Book Now

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