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Unsafe Light

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United States (made)

  • Date:

    1985 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tracey, Andree (photographer)
    Nagatani, Patrick, born 1945 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cibachrome colour photograph

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 1014

Physical description

A colour photograph depicting a chaotic scene inside a photographer’s dark room. The scene in the room shows a man, who has been coloured red, apparently taking a photograph of the scene occurring outside the window. The man is surrounded by a disorganised array of darkroom equipment, such as plastic chemical bottles and film reels, also coloured in red. The scene through the window shows factories billowing smoke into a red sky.

Place of Origin

United States (made)


1985 (made)


Tracey, Andree (photographer)
Nagatani, Patrick, born 1945 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Cibachrome colour photograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Nagatani / Tracey "Unsafe Light" 1985'
Signed and inscribed in ink


Height: 50.6 cm, Width: 40.5 cm

Object history note

This print is from the portfolio '20/20', published in an edition of 58 (of which this is number 56) with catalogue, by the Department of Art, Dickson Art Center, University of California (UCLA), April 1985. The portfolio was devised to contain work by students who had completed the graduate photography programme at UCLA within the last twenty years. It was co-ordinated by Graham Howe and Jack Butler and designed by Karen Bowers with the catalogue introduction by Robert F. Heinecken. The other artists included in the portfolio are Gillian Brown, Jack Butler, Jo Ann Callis, Judy Coleman, Darryl J. Curran, John Divola, William Doherty, Sidney Doniger, Robbert Flick, Jeff Gates, Graham Howe, Paul Knotter, Victor Landweber, Kenneth McGowan, Philip Melnick, Patrick Nagatani, Karen O'Hearn, Pat O'Neill, Sheila Pinkel, Scott Rankin, Kenneth Shorr and Elfie Wilkins-Nacht.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Patrick Nagatani and Andree Tracey, 'Unsafe Light' from the portfolio '20/20', Cibachrome colour photograph, USA, 1985

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1991

Labels and date

Patrick Nagatani (born 1945) and Andrée
Tracey (born 1948)
Unsafe Light

A safelight is a light source, often red, used
in a photographic darkroom. Here, glowing
red objects seem to be knocked apart by a
cataclysmic event. A photographer attempts
to record the scene with a Polaroid Land
camera. Nuclear disaster is a recurring theme in
Nagatani’s work. He was born days after the US
atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.

Cibachrome print
Museum no. E.1268-1991 [23/7/2016-5/3/2017]


Photographic paper



Subjects depicted

Photographic equipment; Darkroom; Man; Environmental impact; Bottles; Smoke; Plastic; Films; Factories; Window


Photographs; Interiors; Environment


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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