“Paul, Light My Fire, Palm Springs, CA” (1968), by Kali.
PHOTO BY ESTATE OF THE ARTISTS, COURTESY PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM
Credit to the folks at Palm Springs Art Museum for seizing on the discovery of a trove of stunning experimental photography and organizing this trippy exhibition. As the story goes, Long Island housewife Joan Archibald upended her life in 1962, fleeing to sunny Southern California, taking the Hindu-goddess name “Kali,” and reinventing herself as a photographer. She moved to Palm Springs and became more withdrawn and eccentric while exploring the possibilities of the medium. It wasn’t until 2019 that her daughter, Susan, discovered the bounty of work that would elevate Kali’s renown. Indeed, Kali pioneered approaches in which she used the classic tools of analog photography but manipulated the images in innovative ways that often resulted in a psychedelic effect aligning with the aesthetics of the time. She shot on black-and-white film and placed the prints in her swimming pool, physically agitating them as she applied dyes, paints, spray developer, and even organic material, accord- ing to the museum. After achieving the final mix of colors and textures, she left the prints to dry in the sun — creating truly one-of-a-kind images. The exhibition continues through April 8, 2024.