The Space Gallery Annex, 538 Congress St., Portland, is showing a collection of prints and glass plates by photographer Michael Kolster in a new exhibition, “itiswhatitis.” The exhibition includes two series of works, one featuring abstracted tangles of binding ribbons and one collecting cliched phrases, typset in a similar tangle. Kolster shoots each unique glass plate in his studio and presents them both as layered pair glass images in front of black velvet and as large-format digital prints.
The work was made using a wet-plate collodion process to make ambrotypes, which were widely used in the mid-19th century. Ambrotypes were less expensive to produce than daguerrotypes, the popular photography process of the day. Ambrotypes enabled families from modest backgrounds to sit for portraits. They were popular from around 1855 to 1865, when they were eclipsed by the tintype.
Kolster lives in Brunswick, and teaches photography at Bowdoin College.
“itiswhatitis” is on view through Feb. 15. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Kolster will talk about his work at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.