Press Clippings


June 2, 2012

"Out of this Body:
Inside Lana Z Caplan's mind?"
By Christian Holland

Out of this Body: Inside Lana Z Caplan's mind?

Out of this body

Out of this Body: Inside Lana Z Caplan's mind?

BROOKLYN , NY — Out of this BodyLana Z Caplan’s installation in Fountain Studios’ project space, feels like a cacophonous mess of point-of-view video, but only if you don’t give the work the time it deserves. The installation, titled When you cut into the present, the future leaks out (2012), seems like a real-time representation of a mind’s eye in r.e.m. sleep and shows off Caplan’s knack for spell-casting in the language of cinema.

Two wall-sized projections at 90 degrees from each other show handheld video camera footage shot by the artist. Both show content pulled from the same source material (cocktail parties, interviews, lectures, street scenes, all through different seasons), but one screen shows footage seemingly edited for timing rhythm while the other, triggered by a light sensor, frenetically flips through 200 different clips. Hanging from the ceiling are two domed speakers, each one trained directly at the floor and tightly focusing the sound of one of the projections. Their shape focuses the sound they emit and allows viewers to step in and out of each video’s diegetic sound.

The POV footage (you only hear Caplan’s voice, and rarely, and you don’t see her) shows you just what the filmmaker sees and hears, and the spontaneously fractured footage with its disconnected sound in the darkened gallery create a disorienting effect that’s best described like being in a dream. A set of speakers (Untitled, 2012; 2 subwoofers, amplifier, CD player with audio track, infinite) installed in a wall nearby provide the space with low, drowning rumble that helps lull you into the trance-like state in which one best enjoys the work.

The only detraction from the exhibition is a slide projector nestled closely to a wall (Unwrapped, 2012). A small sign, or friendly gallerist, invites visitors to click through Caplan’s photographs (digital transferred to slide film), which fit with the show’s theme with their beauty and contemplative nature, but the projector adds as much to the experience of the show as it takes away.

If you can manage an hour outside of Bushwick this weekend, head down to Prospect Heights/Crown Heights for the last weekend of Caplan’s show. Email Fountain (fountainstudios(at)gmail(dot)com) to plan a visit or just show up at the artist’s talk and closing reception on Saturday, 2 June at 7pm.

The Boston Globe

February 5, 2011

"Taking to the Woodshed"
By Cate McQuaid

Taking to the Woodshed


more photos

NORTH ADAMS — Jazz musicians have a term, “take it to the woodshed.’’ Go out back with your ax and work it out. For five days in Jan­uary, 30 collage artists converged on North Adams with their axes — stashes of paper and fab­ric, kits filled with pencils and scissors and paint — for a marathon trip to the woodshed. The results of their efforts can be seen in “100 Hours in the Woodshed III,’’ at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Gallery 51, through Feb. 20.

Last week­end, the artists were set up two to a table in two rows down the narrow gallery. Occasionally, someone would pick up a guitar to strum, but mostly the mood was quiet and focused, with murmured critiques and encouragement min­gling with the sounds of scissors slic­ing and pencils scribbling.

Every two years, artists come from as far away as California and Wisconsin to participate in the collage marathon, making art from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days. This is the third Woodshed event.

“Everyone comes with a plan and a purpose,’’ said artist Daniel O’Connor, also known as Danny O, as he took a break from dabbing paint over pages of text. “ Hopefully, that gets shattered.’’

O’Connor and New York art deal­er and artist Scott Zieher masterminded the Woodshed. The two have met up to spend weekends working alongside artist friends for almost 20 years.

Zieher staged a more commercial version in his gallery, ZieherSmith, in 2006. Then it migrated to North Adams, where O’Connor lives, and where Zieher can participate as an artist, which he didn’t feel he could do at his own gallery. The MCLA took up the event’s stewardship.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for artists,’’ said Zieher. He had thrown over working with found text to crafting sleek abstract collages. “It becomes competitive in a good way. You look over your shoulder and see what somebody else is doing.’’

“You’re allowed to steal in this room,’’ O’Connor added. “Not things, but ideas.’’

At the back of the gallery, Lana Z Caplan has set up shop across the table from Melora Kuhn. It’s Kuhn’s first trip to the Woodshed. Caplan has come to all three.

“I was really nervous. I tried to do a bunch of prep,’’ said Kuhn, pausing from painstakingly cutting elegant silhouettes with a slender blade. “It’s nice to work in a place where other people are working. It’s energizing. Then, I’m ready for a glass of wine at 10 o’clock.’’

“There is a sense of urgency. You can’t stop,’’ said Caplan, who was splicing together bits of film that Zieher had stumbled over on a Brooklyn street after the first Woodshed, and salvaged just for her.

“The other two times, I’ve made some of my favorite work of the year,’’ Caplan said.

Some artists reinvent them­selves at the Woodshed. Henry Klein, a plein air painter, started collaging wave pat­terns at a previous Woodshed. “It’s more conceptual,’’ he said. “I sent slides to Sol LeWitt to see if he would crit my stuff. He wrote back and said ‘you could develop it more.’ I’m going to blow that letter up and make it into a wave pattern.’’

O’Connor sees the collage artists as a tribe. They’re all recyclers. They all have a passion for treasures oth­er people toss away. “I came in yes­ter­day and said there’s a liq­uidation sale at the thrift store, and everyone wanted to go,’’ he said.

The public was free to wander through the gallery as the artists worked.
“It’s some­thing people don’t get to see usually,’’ said Jonathan Sec­or, director of the MCLA Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, which oversees the event. “It’s mythical, mystical. We’ve been able to share art. Now we’re sharing the art and the artists.’’

Zieher, O’Connor, and Gallery 51’s manager Ven Voisey planned to curate the show once the artists put down their tools late Monday, and mount the exhibit the next day. “We’ll say to an artist, what do you love? We love that one, too,’’ O’Connor said. “Most curators, their whole vi­sion comes across. Ours is based on a public that will come in and say ‘this was made in less than a week.’ We want to share the energy.’"

Massachusetts Cultural Council Blog

February 19, 2010

"Lana Z. Caplan’s Illusions at Gallery NAGA"

Lana Z Caplan’s Illusions at Gallery NAGA

Lana Z. Caplan is interested in the ways that women’s social identities can be comprised of at-odds imagery and expectations. As she says in an interview on the Gallery NAGA website: “in the third wave of feminism, we’re expected to be individualistic and successful, to be able to do it all, have a family, relationships, time for ourselves, to be sexy and sexually liberated. All of these roles conflict.”

Lana, who has been making fascinating film, video, and photographic art in the Boston area since 1990, has a one-woman exhibition of new works exploring those conflicting roles at Gallery NAGA through February 27, 2010. Notes for Future Illusions invites viewers to experience videos that, taken together, make up a cohesive installation exploring the perspectives of the spectator and the inspected, and the contradictory icons of womanhood.

Viewers can drift from a video set up in front of a 70s pleather couch, to captivating projected images shot in the Mediterranean, to a “park bench” piece, to videos with headphone stations, and more.

An admiring Boston Globe write-up of the exhibition called PORTRAIT (first still from the top) a “funny elucidation of the awkward self-awareness of people sitting for a portrait.”

Lana Z. Caplan is a film/videomaker, photographer and installation artist who splits her time between Boston, MA and the Amalfi Coast of Italy. She was recently awarded an ongoing residency at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, to support the documentary she is making about international women who have emigrated to Italy to marry Italian men.

ArtSake: Blog Article Archive with images

The Boston Globe

February 17, 2010

"Galleries: Circles of Women"
By Cate McQuaid

Circles of women

Lana Z Caplan has set up a nifty little viewing room for her installation of several videos delving into societal expectations about women at Gallery NAGA. Her main focus is on spectating, and the relationship between viewer and viewed.
The role of the spectator has been hot in art theory in recent years (Caplan’s previous show at NAGA, photos of public execution sites, touched on the topic). Bringing it to bear on women circles back to older feminist theory about how an artist objectifies his model. In this realm, it’s easy to tread into all-too familiar territory, and Caplan does that sometimes.

“Sanctimonia 1’’ and “Sanctimonia 2’’ positions a video of pop star Madonna gyrating onstage beside a video of men shouldering a statue of the Madonna and child - hardly a new comparison, even if you’re looking at the role of the audience (or worshipers) - in the iconography of both Madonnas.

On the other hand, “Portrait,’’ which follows the sometimes salty conversation of elderly Italian women as they note that they are being videotaped, is a funny elucidation of the awkward self-awareness of people sitting for a portrait. Watching and knowingly being watched are juicy topics, but difficult to explore when women and sexuality are central to the discussion, just because imagery of women being watched (or objectified) is everywhere.

Compass Rose

December 4, 2009

"Making Things Happen: An Interview with Lana Z Caplan"
By Rhiannon Lombard

Making Things Happen: An Interview with Lana Z Caplan

Lana Z. Caplan, a Boston-based film/videomaker, photographer and installation artist, visited Chester College of New England this week as part of the Visiting Artist’s Symposium Lecture Series. Caplan works with super8, found footage, video, interactive projections, and alterative processes photography in her pieces, which explore relationships, mortality and social issues.

Caplan grew up in a world of photography. When given her first Polaroid at the age of four, it was just a natural progression for a family that took regular snapshots. Although she never considered a career in art growing up, she attended numerous workshops and camps. It wasn’t until her undergraduate work in art history that she learned anyone can be an artist, if you work hard and make art. When preparing for a new piece, Caplan said she starts with a concept and focuses on finding what the best ways to communicate that, be it through sketches or details within the environment or what works best with the site. Through her heavy use of Polaroids she can see what’s happening, and make decisions as she goes. Armed with research, her camera, and a willingness to experiment, she starts with an idea and keeps kicking it around until figuring out how to approach it.

Caplan’s varied portfolio includes pieces that are experienced, not just viewed. From her videos Love in the Afternoon, and The Waltz to her series on Sites of Public Execution, Caplan’s pieces cover a wide range of compositional interest. “I hope that my audience will give [the work] the time to try to understand, and to see the multiple layers and pieces that make it, as well as the collective meaning of the pieces put in the installation,” she said.

Between exhibiting, studio time, researching and more, Caplan still finds time to visit many colleges as a traveling artist/lecturer. She said her biggest piece of advice is to work hard. “Nothing comes easy, so keep working at it,” she said. “Take a good look at what came before you and the context of what you are doing, what you might be referencing and what others might be seeing when they view your work.” Caplan encourages young artists to look for inspiration everywhere. She has found it in the work of Pipilotti Rist and Andy Warhols’ films. “We can all be inspired by something,” she said. “Look at other artists and see what works or what doesn’t work for you and what you can take away from it to incorporate into your own work.”

Even with inspiration, Caplan joked that a typical day in the studio consists of “cappuccino and email.” On a more serious note, she did have one suggestion to beat procrastination. “On those days you are not in the studio, keep a running list of the things to do next time in the studio and options for those times you just don’t feel like ‘it,’” she said.

When work is ready to be shown, Caplan suggested thinking broadly about exhibiting. “Create your own opportunities,” she said. “Collaborate with other types artists and make your own events. Hire bands, invite friends, create your own scenes, work out the kinks. Don’t rely on the existing infrastructure –be prepared to show the establishment. By bringing people together things happen.”


Mt. Greylock News

June 19, 2009

"DownStreet Art features Video Lounge"
By gailmburns

DownStreet Art features Video Lounge

Sociedad por la Fotografía Artística de Puerto Rico
June 17, 2009

“Foto-tipos” y una lección en los procesos fotográficos
By Adrianna Fernández

“Foto-tipos” y una lección en los procesos fotográficos
"Photo-types" and a lesson in photographic processes (translation below)

El 17 de junio de 2009 abrió al público " Foto-tipos ", una excelente muestra de fotografías hechas “ a la antigua ” en la Galería Nacional del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Todas las imágenes son producidas a través de procesos químicos y su calidad es incomparable con la fotografía digital (que es tan común ahora). Son este tipo de exhibiciones las que nos dejan saber que la fotografía análoga todavía está “ vivita y coleando ”. Se destacan las piezas de Nitza Luna, Rolando Silva, Lana Z. Caplan, Marta Fodor, Waleska Rivera and Héctor Román.

Cabe recalcar, que ésta exhibición es parte “ Dos tiempos: en el natalicio del pintor Francisco Oller ”.  Las fotografías incluidas en esta muestra semejan las de la época en la que este pintor vivió y se desarrolló como artista, ya sea por su técnica, estética, o temática. En el trayecto de la vida de Oller (1833-1917) la fotografía se impulsó rápidamente no sólo a través de nuevos inventos y técnicas, sino también en los cambios que se dieron en el pensamiento teórico y crítico sobre este nuevo “arte mecánico”.  Durante esta época la fotografía y la pintura comenzaron a corresponderse una con la otra y viceversa.  La fotografía imitaba la pintura para llegar a tener un estatus de “arte”, mientras los pintores eran grandemente influenciados por la nueva forma de ver el mundo que ofrecía la fotografía.  Considero que es una exposición muy bien lograda. Si aun no has podido apreciarla, te invito a que pases por la Galería Nacional.
“Foto-tipos” cerrará el 31 de julio de 2009.


"Photo-types" and a lesson in photographic processes

*On June 17, 2009 opened to the public "picture-types, an excellent exhibition of photographs made with" old "at the National Gallery of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. All images are produced through chemical processes and their quality is incomparable with digital photography (that is so common now).  It is this type of exhibits that let us know that analog photography is still "alive and well." Highlights the parts of Nitza Luna, Rolando Silva, Lana Z. Caplan, Marta Fodor, Waleska Rivera, y Héctor Román.

It should be noted that this exhibition is part of "Two times, on the birthday of painter Francisco Oller." The photographs included in this sample resemble those of the period in which the painter lived and developed as an artist, either by their technical, aesthetic, or theme. In the journey of life Oller (1833-1917) promoted photography is rapidly not only through new inventions and techniques, but also the changes that occurred in the theoretical and critical thinking about this new "mechanical art." During this time of photography and painting began to correspond with each other and vice versa. Imitated the painting photography in order to have a status of "art", while the painters were greatly influenced by the new way of seeing the world offering photography. I think it is very well made a statement. If you have not been able to appreciate it, I invite you to walk through the National Gallery. "Photo-types" will close July 31, 2009.

*Google Translation

North Adams Transcript

January 19, 2009

"Artists show their drive"
By Jennifer Huberdeau

NORTH ADAMS -- Settled into the back corner of MCLA Gallery 51, Lana Z Caplan, a Boston-based artist, quickly changed the reels of film on a large 16 millimeter film projector Friday, as the artists around her cut, glued, painted, sewed and sketched.

They were working non-stop as part of a 100-hour collage marathon that ends tonight.

"I'm not sure at this point what will come to fruition, but I'm thinking I'll have a sweet little love poem by the time I'm done," Caplan said. "I'm using this 16 millimeter film footage, which I'm going to collage into my own film."

Caplan, who participated in the gallery's original "100 Hours in the Woodshed" in 2007, said she was excited to be asked back for "Woodshed II: Another 100 hours," which began Thursday evening and will culminate with a month long show at Gallery 51.

An opening reception to celebrate the work of the 40 artists participating in the event will take place at the gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

"It was a really great experience last time," Caplan said. "It's one of my favorite art-making experiences. There's great energy and great people in a great place. You're also seeing old friends. In the last two years, there have been two babies born, two engagements and one marriage amongst those of us who've returned. A lot can happen in two years.


Over the last four days, visitors have been able to walk through the "live studios" at Gallery 51 and the MCLA Gallery 51 annex on the corner of Main and Holden streets, and witness art-making in progress.According to Jonathan Secor, MCLA director of special programs, the premise of the event is to arrive with nothing and at the end of the 100 hours have created work that will be on display and for sale at the gallery.

Local artist Daniel "Danny O" O'Connor originally proposed the idea of holding a "collage party" to Secor after attending one at the ZieherSmith Gallery in New York City's Chelsea art district during the summer of 2006. As part of the show, artists created their pieces for the exhibit in the gallery, which was open to the public for the 100 hours they had to make the artwork."


 Berkshire Eagle

January 18, 2009

"In the woodshed"
By Scott Stafford


Dozens of artists make the most of cabin fever in North Adams.

NORTH ADAMS — Music fills the air, but more palpable is the inspiration and creativity that fills the room at MCLA Gallery 51 and the MCLA Gallery Annex as 40 artists gather materials and ideas and try to come up with finished pieces side by side.

Having come from around the corner and from across the country, since Thursday night these artists have been part of "Woodshed II: The Next Hundred Hours," a five-day gathering to churn out collage art together. The first woodshed happened two years ago with 20 artists.

Spirit of collaboration
While this is not exactly a collaboration, there is a collaborative spirit. The artists share materials, ideas and encouragement, and celebrate each others' successes. In each location, tables are filled with bits and pieces of newspapers, magazines, postcards, artworks, canvas, paintings, toys, movie film, woodwork and small sculptures. There are also computers and headphones and iPods and tubes of paint.

Afterwards, the Woodshed work will be curated and the selected works will be part of a Woodshed exhibition at MCLA Gallery 51.

Mark Hohlstein of Great Barrington and Shane Murray of New York City were working together on a four-foot by four-foot two-dimensional collage using hundreds of pieces of magazine and newspaper to craft an image. Their hope is to have it completed by the time Woodshed ends Monday night.

Jason Brinkerhoff of San Francisco stood over a table covered with scraps of paper carrying fragments of images. "I finally got just enough chaos in front of me to make something happen," he said. "It took me a few days to build up to it." Brinkerhoff said he likes the close quarters and working in a public space. "It makes you accountable to other artists — you're not hiding in your studio," he said.

"It's a pretty organic process," added Scott Zieher of New York City from across the table. "If I can lay something down on paper and call it finished I'll be happy. It is fun and everybody's got a great attitude, but that's not what it's about. It's about getting some work done."

'Beauty of being here"
Further down the aisle, Lana Z Caplan, a Boston-based video collage artist, was taking old footage shot circa 1950 and reshooting it digitally while altering the projection by adding layers, colors and soundtrack, to express her theme on love.

She was part of the first Woodshed. "That's the beauty of being here — last time I made some pieces that are still some of my favorites," Caplan said. "So my hope is that I'll be able to make something that I like in two years."

BU Today Online

May 22, 2008

"War, Family, and Work on Display at PRC"
By Kimberly Cornuelle

War, Family, and Work on Display at PRC
Conflict, community, and commerce shown through images

Multimedia slideshow on BU Today

Click on the slide show above to see images from EXPOSURE and to hear Lana Z. Caplan, Claire Beckett, and Cree Bruins talk about their work.

Conflict, community, and commerce are all featured themes in EXPOSURE: The Annual Photographic Resource Center Juried Exhibition, which opens Thursday, May 22, at 5:30 p.m. While juried shows often display single works from many photographers, the work in EXPOSURE is from just 14 artists — chosen by guest juror Lesley A. Martin, publisher of Aperture Foundation's book program — who will exhibit more than 40 images.

“The really great thing about this show is there’ll be more than one piece from each artist's body of work,” says Lana Z. Caplan, who is showing four photographs from her series exploring sites of public execution around the world.

Pieces in the show focus on family, such as Mariliana Arvelo’s photographs of her grandmother, Martine Fougeron’s images of her two sons, and Molly Landreth’s exploration of same-sex couples. Other photographers turn their lenses on war. Claire Beckett gained access to military training spaces in the United States for her series Simulating Iraq. Ellen Susan sets up portraits of soldiers, using a historical wet plate process to achieve a grainy look. Benjamin Lowry climbed inside an army Humvee to capture moments in Iraq through the window. Marta Labad crumples up famous historical war images and photographs them.

Other featured works include the abstract photography of Cree Bruins and Talie Chetrit and the consumer critiques of Clint Baclawski, Eric Percher, and Erik Schubert.

South End News

November 22, 2007

"Whose line is it?"
By Scott Kearnan

20 artists showcased in Mills Gallery exhibition.


Another highlight is Lana Z Caplan's Thinking of You, a looped five-minute video of character sketches. The installation displays a series of penciled headshots. Grainy videotape quality, stop-motion editing, and pulsating lights lend the eerie quality of a comic book snuff film. Each sketched face is accompanied by a revelatory statement of character: "He is irritatingly pleasant," reads one. "She believes she's forgotten," says another. "He has trouble looking her in the eyes." reveals a third. Whether the handful of misspellings (including "helmut," "creul," and "aprehension,") are the result of creative license or a hasty spellcheck is up for debate. But gallery visitors are sure to agree on the shrewd, haunting nature of the piece.


North Adams Transcript

June 21, 2007

"Old technology creates modern visions"
By John E. Mitchell

Thursday, June 21 NORTH ADAMS — In a variation of the words of philosopher Marshall McLuhan, photographer Lana Z. Caplan's work shows that the medium is at least a portion of the message, as is the process attached to the chosen medium. Caplan's work runs a gamut of alternative processes of photography, taking advantage of the aesthetics related to each in order to explore the themes that interest her, as well as the methods of production. One area of photographic labor for Caplan as been in the production of tintypes, a style of photography popular at the end of the 19th century that employs black metal and negative images to create the finished product. Caplan was as drawn to the potential flaws of the medium as she was to the colors and texture.

" I really liked the way the actual surface is thick and bubbly," she said. "The historic tintypes are much smoother than the ones I'm making intentionally. I really like being able to see — almost like paint — the drips and the bubbles and the gradation of tone that you get when you coat thicker or thinner, so it really becomes a compositional element in addition to image."

Caplan takes a painterly approach to constructing her tintype images, creating mysterious still life scenes involving chairs, suitcases, insect collections and mannequin parts that she augments with the particulars of the process.

Caplan taught herself the tintype process after spending time with other process types — the major difference between them, she says, is chemistry. The rest involves hand coating the materials and exposing them, which does take a bit of practice to exact the artistic control that she requires.
" It's a very, very finicky process," said Caplan. "It requires very extreme temperatures to get things to work — you have to heat things up and they cool down very quickly, and then if it didn't work you have to reheat things. In that process, everything could spoil. It also requires complete darkness for a good part of the process, so I had to build a special way of getting in and out of the darkroom so I could eat."

It is also a time-consuming process. Caplan started with 4-by-5-inch images, but once she moved onto 20-by-20, it took much longer to go through the routine of coating a plate, letting it dry, washing the metal and more. " It gets to the point where I can make maybe one in a session of 12 hours," said Caplan Despite the possible drudgery of the method, Caplan finds herself entranced by the black and metal of a finished image that makes it all worthwhile to her. " Every time I hate the process, I get a plate that makes me fall back in love with it," she said.

In her earlier photographic experiments, Caplan had worked in photograms, which is photography without a camera. The method involves laying objects down on light sensitive material and shining light down for the exposure. The idea is that you are leaving shadows of the image on the paper, but Caplan played with the kinds of objects she worked with to create images that were more texturally complex.
" With the more transparent objects, you don't just have a shadow, you also see through the image," said Caplan. "I was using flowers and bones and different detritus from animals and plants, combining them with live flowers. You see the veins in the petals or the veins in the leaves, or you see vertebrae in the spinal structure, and I was combining these life forms.

Caplan was doing a residency at the Contemporary Artists Center in North Adams a few years back when she began to work with cyanotypes, a type of monochromatic photography that uses its chemical coating to turn ultraviolet rays into gray-blue tones on watercolor paper. Caplan used this method to document sights that entranced her along Route 2, between the Berkshires and Boston. She later extended the project and added some images from Atlantic City. She also worked with palladium prints, a process involving paper hand-coated with a platinum-related substance, which creates a black/brown tone to shadow areas and provides sharp detail. The reasoning behind this process is that the photographer is working to achieve a heightened, smoother print — something Caplan found she was at odds with. " I was frustrated by that process," she said. "I'm a perfectionist, so any sort of imperfection in this process, it was a wash and I had to start over. I turned to tintypes, where I could embrace all the imperfections — enhance them and add to them. I've got to the point now where I'm a perfectionist about where they lie on the image and I'm probably discarding just as many as I did with the platinum and palladium, but it's different."

Caplan has lately moved onto film projects, but still embraces the same do-it-yourself aesthetic with those, working with old technology and utilizing the flaws to create its own singular beauty.
" I hand process some of my Super 8 films," said Caplan. "One of the films I made looked like a tintype. It was black and white, but when you hand process, you get blues and greens and overlaps and bubbles from the chemicals and bleaching, so that was a natural thing for me."

For some of her films, she uses the same props as in her photographic work. Even if she hasn't, she has come to find the different methods she uses as multiple means to the same expressions. They all spring from the same brain. " The subject matter of the work is the same, because I'm thinking about the same things," said Caplan, "I'm just using different tools to examine the same subjects."
One photographic series of sepia-toned images called "Sites of Public Execution" has been adapted to film. The project is one that Caplan has been working on for several years now when she travels, exploring places where people have been executed and how they look today. Caplan finds that revealing the dark history of unassuming, even grand, scenes can really undercut a viewer's expectations from a photo. " One of them is the Louvre in Paris," said Caplan. "They had a guillotine during the French Revolution, but it's the Louvre, you see a picture. I put a French matte around it and it says, in Edwardian script, 'Site of public execution by guillotine, 1792 to 1793.' You expect it to say "The Louvre, Paris," but it tells you this other history of the place."

Caplan shows these photos in their still format and also as part of a slide show that she has fashioned inside a small darkened box, with a digital video screen inside, an experience she likens to the old Magic Lanterns. Caplan has also varied this filmed collage presentation with other projects using single-frame images. In one, she documented every arch of the Coliseum in Rome — in another, every face of every visitor one day in St. Peter's Square, each one there to see the pope. These photos are shown at regular film speed — 18 frames per second.

Caplan's hands-on work doesn't usually begin until she has a fully-formed concept in her head, but the physical nature of it requires some understanding that improvisation is inevitable.
" I definitely work from those eureka moments and then I'll run with that for awhile until it feels like something else is influencing it in a better way," she said.

It's not important to Caplan that viewers see things from her point of view, however. The way she sees it is that she goes on her journey in order to allow others to pick it up and run from her finishing point.
" There's a guided place that you're putting the viewer and then leaving it to them to use their own psyche or their own references to make something for themselves from it," said Caplan, "which I find much more interesting than telling people what I think. Most of the time, people are more interested in what they think."

What is most important to Caplan is how she arrives at these finales for others to witness, and that is all in the processes she utilizes. She is not content to be someone behind a machine that captures — if she were a painter, she says, she would paint. However, she is a photographer and she adapts this need to that calling.

" I'm an artist, I like to make things," said Caplan. "It's not about taking pictures for me, or about taking it to the lab and having them make me the perfect print, it's about me actually making something. I like putting my hands — not necessarily in the chemicals, which happens — but I like physically making something."

While some embrace new technology as the answer to their artistic questions, Caplan has been able to take what is old and point it in a new direction. Caplan has taken the methods of media that most people have long since discarded and pull out the aesthetic qualities of each for use in her expression. The history of photography is the palette she chooses to work from.

" I feel like we have all of these options to choose what it will look like, so why be limited to one way?" said Caplan. "I think that all those choices are what makes something successful or not."

Lana Z. Caplan will be showing her tintypes as part of the "Pushing Light" show at Kolok Gallery in North Adams — She can be found online at

North Adams Transcript January 30, 2007

"Mixing it up
Artists wrap up 100 hours"
By Jennifer Huberdeau

Artists have been working since Friday to fill Gallery 51 in North Adams with their works during the '100 Hours in the Woodshed' event.

NORTH ADAMS — Among the scraps of magazine pages, old cups of coffee and discarded Papa Gino's pizza boxes, 16 artists cut, pasted, sewed and spliced as they raced against the clock Monday afternoon during the final hours of the "100 Hours" art marathon held at Gallery 51.
The event, which spanned four days and nights, brought together 20 collage artists from not only the Berkshires but also from New York City, Boston and Canada to create new work for the gallery's newest exhibit, "100 Hours in the Woodshed," which opens tonight. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 9.

" January tends to be a quiet month," said local artist Daniel "Danny O" O'Connor on Monday. "The big idea was to bring people to town who are not familiar with the Berkshires and take care of them. Hopefully, their memories will be of the Berkshires as this comfortable arts utopia. That's why very few Berkshire artists were chosen for the event, but we do have a strong local component." O'Connor proposed the idea of holding a "collage party" to Jonathan Secor, MCLA director of special programs, after attending one at the ZieherSmith Gallery in New York City's Chelsea art district last summer. As part of the show, artists created their pieces for the exhibit in the gallery, which was open to the public for the 100 hours they had to make the artwork. O'Connor said more than 200 people toured the gallery on Saturday alone. " I think we got the residual from the free day at Mass MoCA," he said. "But it's really great. We have people that have come in every day to see the progress. We have people who come in at 9 p.m. to see what's gone on during the day." Secor said the show was being well received by local residents. " On Saturday, the crowds almost became a problem," he said. "At one point, you could look out at the gallery and there wasn't room to move, never mind work. I can imagine how hard it is for some artists to work beside other artists instead of being alone in their own studio. Then you add the crowds in."


Lana Z. Caplan of Boston was in the final stages of editing together vintage movie trailers — creating short videos that explore the topic of relationships. " I've made a one-minute romance made from the trailers and another that explores relationships through a lion and tiger fight," she said. "I want people to take away the idea that some relationships are more complicated than others — and as equally as heated. In the film, you can see (the lion and tiger) are clearly not trying to maim each other, they're playing. It's like some more complicated relationships." Caplan also created an abstract film collage with the optical sound strips from the lion and tiger fight scenes. "You're looking at the sound, but it's silent," she said. "It's the sound of the lion, tiger and the fight, yet it's silent. I'm thinking of titling it 'Roar.' " (...)

American Photo On Campus September 2004

”Tin Woman: Lana Z Caplan Finds New Meaning in an Old Photographic Process." by Nina Gantcheva

For Lana Z Caplan, alternative and antique photo processes are more than a way to give her images distinctive look. "I want to conceptualize themes that run throughout generations and time periods," says the photographer. Though she has explored both cyanotype and palladium printing, much of Caplan's work involves variations on the tintype - a process that has taken on political significance for the photographer. She points out that Civil War soldiers often had tintype portraits made to send home to loved ones, and that she began to create hers around the time of the American invasion of Iraq. "Both were, and are, times of polarization in our country, " she explains. (...)

"All the images have an underlying text or narrative that is both personal and has universal symbolism," says Caplan. "some of them will conjure recognizable iconography." The pear, for example, evokes both sustenance and a female shape, and the torn strips of bedsheets used to suspend it suggest "things are bound and not serving their purpose," says Caplan. The sea horse images challenges notions of gender because males of the species bear its young. Caplan sums things up this way on her website: "In all of my work, I am examining the beauty and tension in decay, the rhythmic cycles in nature, and the societal emotions that surround the fleeting, dying and everyday reality of living."

The Boston Herald
Friday, July 4, 2003

"Old techniques give focus to photos"
by Joanne Silver

Day after day, Lana Z Caplan watched death overtake the orchid sitting by the window of her Roxbury studio. Slowly, inexorably, the stalk lost one blossom, then another, then another, until all that remained was a bare stick in a vase.

Faced with graphic evidence of life's transience, Caplan did what she is most comfortable doing: She turned it into art. "20 Days in December," a grid of 20 small images, records the orchid's metamorphosis in the antique, velvety tones of a palladium print.

Why would a lively 30-year-old photographer employ methods that flourished in the 19th century? "I've always focused on a similar conceptual theme: the experience of existence," Caplan said, adding that this concern is "best portrayed with older techniques that remind viewers of historic images and are therefore free of popular culture associations."

On a sweltering June morning, the artist looked surprisingly cool, dressed in a black sleeveless shirt, black capri pants and old-fashioned blue sneakers, with her blond hair hanging loose over her shoulders. She lucked out in finding a parking space near Gallery NAGA, where her debut solo show is on view. "Lana Z Caplan: Photograms, Palladium Prints and Tintypes" displays a remarkably coherent vision, as the photographer probes the form and the nature of living things in a variety of media. Only the tiny Polaroid transfers on glass represent a modern technique, but even these have the feel of something rescued from a long-lost archive.

As a child in Pennsylvania and later New Jersey, Caplan always liked to take pictures. She also liked collecting things. She would capture lightning bugs long enough to see the light blink before letting them go. She would nurture abandoned birds' eggs until the babies could fly away. When she and her older sister gathered berries, they would mash them and make secret potions.

Initially, the artist concentrated on painting and ceramics, two media that involve a lot of hands-on activity. Gradually, she veered toward photography in her undergraduate years at Boston University and afterward when studying at the Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She felt drawn to historical processes because they allowed her to create the image during the printing process.

Instead of pressing a button, she slathered chemicals on paper, placed objects on light-sensitive paper, painted coatings onto metal plates and waited patiently for the mixtures to air-dry. "It's an all-day process to get that one moment," she said.

Time's effects are a powerful presence in Caplan's art. Although her images are all still shots, the artist heightens the fleeting quality of the moments she has preserved. She has arranged bees among the petals of the photogram "Quarry Flowers," and crab legs within the stalks of "Lisianthus." While echoing the forms within each plant type, these unusual additions also serve as a reminder of the universality of brief life spans.

"I like the integration between the two elements," the photographer said of these strange hybrids. "They show a similarity in form. They show we all share structural as well as experiential elements." Looking at her own work, the lifelong collector pointed to a skate egg sac that never developed, crab molts that have been shed, crab legs left after the creature died, cut flowers destined to fade quickly.

A bunch of tulips dangles from cloth bandages in one haunting tintype. Caplan was listening to Nirvana when she made that image. Little ballerina dolls hang suspended in another tintype. Back in her studio, Caplan recently experimented with wrapped and hanging locusts – at least until she dismantled the arrangement out of consideration for an overnight guest.

Are these bandaged items wounded? Healing? Bound in restraints? Caplan responded, "I like that there's the ambiguity. I like mystery, personal interpretation. I don't like it all spelled out."

Lana Z Caplan exhibition, at Gallery NAGA, 67 Newbury St., Boston, through July 18. Free. 617-267-9060. Also showing at NAGA: "On Closer Inspection: Marks of Making in the Field."

Weekly Dig
July 2, 2003

"Lana Z Caplan’s Photograms,
Palladium Prints, and Tintypes at Gallery NAGA"
by Sady Sullivan

It’s ok to go into a gallery, even one on Newbury Street, sweaty from bike riding and wearing a grubby skirt – you don't need art school cred on your sleeve, or a matching hat and bag to prove you are there to buy.  Arthur Dion, director of Gallery NAGA (located in that gothic church building on the corner of Berkeley and Newbury Streets), can’t contain his enthusiasm about their current show Photograms, Palladium Prints, and Tintypes by Lana Z Caplan.  “We are so delighted to help launch her work!” he said, “ This is the debut of someone who is very interesting to us, a young artist whose work is technically strong and has intriguing content.”

You might have seen Lana Z Caplan expertly snapping shots of performers at the Middle East and elsewhere… little did you know that she has also mastered historic photographic processes and absorbed their cultural resonance.  “I like that it’s a much slower, hand manipulated process, much more thought out than 35mm click-click-click.  Setting up the image, coating the plate with light sensitive material - it is like painting,” she says, “With the historic processes, like tintypes for instance, you can’t go into a store and buy it all prepared, you get the chemicals and the paper and then experiment.  It took me awhile to figure out how to direct the imperfections.”

Tintypes were first used in the US in 1856 and are made by coating iron (not tin, strangely enough) with a light sensitive collodion silver mixture, giving them a dark reflective otherworldly glow.  Tintypes were common during the Civil War because, unlike other photographs which at the time were printed on glass, tintypes are rugged and durable and so soldiers could mail their portraits home to loved ones from the encampment.  Caplan’s tintypes capture the power of the glowing eyes of a dead soldier but with imagery associated with traditional still-life which has been eroticized, challenged, brought to the brink: fleshy pears dangle, bound by frayed cloth criss-crossing their curves; a dragonfly, caught, hangs strung up by a human spider tendency.  

The 6 tintypes in the Dinner Settings series are framed by oval gold leaf and appear Victorian and formal until you look close enough to see that on each plate rests different detritus: Wellfleet horseshoe crab molts, Concord cat skull, North Adams sparrow skeleton.  These pieces together are a beautiful shamanistic homage to places, time, life, death.

“Tintypes are devoid of pop culture, modern society. The work I’ve been doing for the past five years has a lot to do with the struggle of existence, conflict, war, destruction, survival, and similarities between all life forms –the inherent beauty in that plant life, animal life, human life, all have the same experience of existence even within structure and form,” reflects Caplan.

The Polaroid emulsion lift transfers on glass, the most modern process in the show, are also full of ceremonial reverence: animal skulls, again bound and dangling, next to upside down flowers like Paleolithic bird feet, recall some strange body submitted to ancient burial rites, while the shadow of the images passing through the fragile glass plate onto the wall conjures the spirit. Caplan’s photograms recall Chinese ink brush paintings, petals fading like trails of smoke, while x-rays capture the delicate wisps deep inside buds yet to bloom.  The platinum/palladium prints depict the slow decay of an orchid over 20 days.  “I chose palladium printing, a 19th century process, for this subject because it has a very precious quality,” says Caplan, “and visually the texture is velvety, like orchid petals. It is very expensive, pristine, the most archival, the most permanent, perfect for re-presenting the precious impermanence of daily life.”

And while you are there at Gallery NAGA, check out a must-see painting by Masako Kamiya called Dragonfly Hunting: tiny pin-head stalagmites of gouache cover a panel in buzzing frenetic loops and darts, orange, green, yellow, red, layers like radioactive sediment.

The Boston Globe

June 27, 2003

Living Arts
by Cate McQuaid

Lana Z Caplan has her first solo show at Gallery NAGA. She's just 30, but already a jack-of-all-trades in photography: The show includes tintypes, palladium prints, Polaroid transfers on glass, and photograms, which are images made when you lay objects directly on light-sensitive film or paper. Caplan's a painterly photographer, and the different processes give her an opportunity to use emulsion, chemicals, and even ink to create atmosphere in her images.

She takes the natural world as her theme: "20 Days in December" features a grid of 20 small black-and-white prints documenting the bloom and death of an orchid. The photograms, which show up as inky shadows on white paper, conflate different elements of nature. "Lisianthus" appends a dying stalk on the top of a thriving flower. The moody, gray-green tones of the tintypes work well for her life-on-the-edge-of-death ideas. "Dragonfly" portrays that insect trapped in a glass jar, which is suspended by torn fabric.


Gallery NAGA press release
May, 2003
LANA Z CAPLAN: Photograms, Palladium Prints, and Tintypes |
Elizabeth Cheek, Bronlyn Jones, Masako Kamiya,
Agnes Martin, David Moore, James Siena
May 30 – July 18, 2003 at Gallery NAGA

For its summer show Gallery NAGA presents the debut exhibition of a young photographer who practices historic photographic methods and a group show that encourages the careful examination of putatively minimal paintings and prints.  

Lana Z Caplan: Photograms, Palladium Prints, and Tintypes and On Closer Inspection: Marks of Making in the Field both run from May 30 through July 18.  A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, May 30 from 6 to 8 pm.  In addition, Lana Z Caplan will speak about her work on Saturday, June 7 at 2 pm.  

Lana Z Caplan is a Boston-based multimedia artist who has done extensive work with historic photographic processes.  All of her work in this exhibition has been made in ways originated in the nineteenth century.  (Specific descriptions of the history and chemistry of the techniques is available from the gallery.)

Caplan’s various technical approaches to making images are unified by her thematic concerns, which revolve around the life, death, and decay of living things.  In some works – as in her progressive palladium prints of blossoming orchids, shot daily as the lush flowers weaken and eventually drop their petals – this theme is evident.  In other works, for example in her stately black-and-white photography of wildflowers into which she has unobtrusively inserted such detritus of death as bones and dead bugs, it’s implicit.

Concentrating on the fleeting nature of existence, Caplan’s works make a strong case for photography’s ability to preserve transient glories. In the luscious tonal undulations of emulsion she’s spread onto metal plates with her and in the delicate graduations of grey made by light passing through blossoms, the work emphasizes beauty’s fragility.

In a statement she’s written, Caplan says, “I am focusing on how all living things are somehow similar at all stages of existence and the beauty and horror that lies within these affinities.”

In presenting On Closer Inspection: Marks of Making in the Field, the gallery suggests that some minimal work is best understood if the subtle evidence of the work’s execution – sometimes noticeable only with scrutiny – is seen as gestures which inflect its structure.  The paintings and prints in the show generally have clear grid or geometric forms that define their appearance from a normal viewing distance; from up close, however, one sees the marks the artist’s hand made in constructing these larger patterns.

Elizabeth Cheek, Bronlyn Jones, Masako Kamiya, and David Moore are Boston-based painters for whom, respectively, tiny drawn lines, or slight irregularities of painted forms, or daubs of paint atop one another, or thin slices into the paint’s surface give their paintings’ faces lines of personality and experience.  James Siena is a New York-based painter and printmaker whose strongly patterned black-and-white etching can be seen to build from thousands of tiny cross-hatchings.  Agnes Martin, arguably the most important minimal painter, is represented here by an untitled 1998 lithograph, whose geometric pattern is occupied by a delicate haze that barely floats in its space.

The Boston Globe
February 7, 2003

Living Arts
by Cate McQuaid


"Between Evolution and Aberration: Works of Imaginary Anatomy" at the Fort Point Point Arts Community Gallery has a similar agenda.(...) Here, it's all about mutation. Lana Z Caplan (...) makes luminous black-and-white photos of plants that appear to be naturally developing unlikely features, such as goldenrod with dragonfly wings.


The Boston Sunday Globe
January 27, 2002

Living Arts
by Hayley Kaufman



Before the padlocks click shut on this Fort Point institution, the Revolving Musuem offers one more show. It will be experimental of course.

It was the local artist Jeff Smith who came up with the idea for "The Experiment Show." He and co curator Ana Crowley, 28, were brainstorming on ways to create an interactive show – one that would get art fans participating in and with the exhibits. so Smith dreamed up the experiment concept: Artist would create pieces of art, as well as hypotheses about how audience members would react to them. then, as in any good science experiment, those hypotheses would be tested, conclusions reached, and results posted.(...)

Then there's Lana Z caplan's piece, which funnels people into a 20-foot-long, curtained hallway where they are exposed to a variety of provocative photographs. As the stop o each, viewers will be asked to choose one word that best describes the image. Caplan predicts that the men will tend to use nouns. Women, she thinks will probably invoke adjectives.(...)

The Boston Globe
December 1, 2001

Living Arts
by Cate McQuaid


"Works of an Eastern Nature" at Media Gallery starts with he prints and sculptures of Shannon Goff, who has studied Japanese woodblock printing in Japan, and follows it up with artists who have a bent toward the Far East. (...) Lana Caplan's photos read like Calligraphy, with shadows and silhouettes of plants hinting at the delicately intangible.(...)

Weekly Dig
November 7, 2001

"Recombining DNA: Lana Z Caplan's art at SCAT"
by Brett M. Rhyne

Lana Z Caplan's art is a matter of life and death, but not necessarily in the way you might think. In her printmaking, Caplan combines cut flora with parts of dead fauna and captures their silhouettes on creamy , light-sensitive paper. their lack of color allows visual confusion between, or merging of, objects. The products are X-rays of hybrid creatures, the imagines results of intriguing gene-grafting experiments. In the most successful of the works, whole animals are off shoots of plants: a sparrow grows as a night-blooming cirrus leaf; a bee emerges as a lady bell stamen; a moth blooms as a daisy flower. in others, animal parts mimic elements of plants: frog legs replace cosmos stamen, or crab legs stand in for Lisianthus leaves. In one striking mutation, an entirely new, horseshoe crab-like creature emerges with the body of a hosta leaf and a tail of vertebrae; one wonders if its resemblance to the prehistoric crustacean marks evolution or devolution. caplan's images are beautiful and at times unsettling. Her sophisticated consideration of the cycle of life and death is more evocative of Cronenberg's Fly than Frankenstein's monster. Ultimately, her work embraces renewal, not decay.