Film Photography: Maurizio Cattelan Exhibit at the Guggenheim

When Kate and I got in line at the Guggenheim Monday morning at 10am I had my Nikon FM2n and 6 shots left on a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400. Luckily I had rated that roll at 1250 ISO for overcast winter days and early nightfalls. I find you can push Tri-X to 1600 or even 3200 and get usable images, but for 35mm I try to keep at 1250 or under. The grain is pronounced at 1250, but not quite overwhelming in a Xtol developer. Of course, if you used something like Rodinal, it would be grain city even at 800. I hadn't planned on taking any shots inside of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit, just a shot of the Guggenheim facade.

Guggenheim Museum Facade, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

That plan changed when I got inside. The exhibit is whimsical, and thanks to the unique design of the Guggenheim, totally engaging. As you climb or descend (we took the stairs to the top and went down) the view of the exhibit, which hangs from the ceiling into the atrium, is constantly changing. You see pieces from above, then at eye level, then from below. It wasn't long before I joined the camera snapping hordes. The Guggenheim has a no photography policy, but guards and staff did not prevent people from taking pictures. Camera flashes, despite the total inability to light up something that far away, fired almost constantly. I was able to take these shots, sans flash of course, at f4 and 1/60th of a second. I think I was able to use 1/125th of a second on one of them and had to use f2.8 on another. Still I'm happy with how they turned out. I could have easily shot a roll or two of film to capture this exhibit, but I liked knowing that I had to be selective.

Donkey, Maurizio Cattelan 'All' Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

Woman, Maurizio Cattelan 'All' Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

Elephant Ghost, Maurizio Cattelan 'All' Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

Shackled Woman and Pigeons, Maurizio Cattelan 'All' Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

This was my favorite piece of the exhibit, but also the hardest to photograph. I knew I only had two exposures left and I wanted to save one for the facade on the way out. How do you expose for a huge, dark mass of soil against a white background? Very carefully... I love the bunnies on the grass.

Tree and Soil, Maurizio Cattelan 'All' Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, Kodak Tri-X 400 Pushed to 1250 ISO, Xtol Developer 1+1

All images developed in Xtol 1+1 solution at 68F for 11.5 minutes.