©Dek Unu Arts, 2021
Images: ©Rachel Portesi
This is Dek Unu Magazine. In Esperanto, dek unu means "eleven." Eleven images from a single artist. Eleven artists in eleven solo issues each year.
Dek Unu publishes the work of a new photoartist in each issue. The artist's work and words are featured alone and in individual focus as the sole purpose for each issue of the magazine. Unlike other arts and letters magazines which might look for work from a variety of artists to support an editorial staff's theme, at Dek Unu, theme and imagery are always each artist's own.
In touch with photography’s Victorian roots, Rachel Portesi uses a very old-fashioned photo medium to examine an array of issues and ideas particularly pertinent to women and women artists both then and now. Her “Hair Portraits” are reminders of the historical role of coiffure as a social signifier communicating everything from age, income, religion, nationality, and marital status to deeply-personal messages about self-image, attitude toward authority, and, sometimes, appetite for adventure! These are adventurous artworks, the unpredictable nature of the wet plate collodion process, and the demands of the time and engineering required to execute Portesi’s portraits, make each image’s appearance in the fixer a surprise, a delight or a disappointment, but Rachel relishes the challenge. Indeed, for her, a large part of the attraction of the tintype process is that, unlike contemporary digital photography, which allows hundreds of exposures per hour with the ready option of perfecting edits in Photoshop, tintype is one-and-done, the “magical” result is always unique and finished in the final rinse. Like the Victorians, who were famously students of Nature, Portesi integrates natural objects: flowers, leaves, twigs, and vines, in extraordinary, architected, distinctly feminine symbols of patience, wisdom, strength, and creativity.