Kali – the name that artist Joan Archibald chose for herself – was more than a photographer, in fact she styled herself as an Artographer. Born in Islip (NY) in 1932, she moved to Malibu thirty years later and became a fixture at the beach parties of the era. From that time on, she created hundreds of images which have only recently been rediscovered.
From Malibu, Kali moved to Palm Springs where she took photography classes at the College of the Desert. But no one knows exactly where and how her style developed. Her portraits are a reminder of the hazy days of the hippie area in LA. Her landscapes are beyond reality, with overlays, multiple exposures, a strange sense of geometry. From the very beginning, she did her own prints, experimenting with various baths and types of paper. Some would be floated in the pool and dried in the sun; bugs and dust could have stuck to them in the process. Nearly all of them offer a physical texture that is beyond the capabilities of machines and can’t be reproduced as such, making them unique art works.
After a brief show in 1970, Kali retired from public life but continued to work and create for the next thirty years. She passed away in 2019 and her trove of photographs was discovered by her daughter Susan Archibald who did not suspect the extent of her mother’s body of work. Joan Archibald, aka Kali, cannot be compared to Vivian Maier but the excitement of finding another unknown master is there.
Galerie XII Los Angeles
Bergarmot Arts Center, #B2
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA
Kali (Joan Archibald): A Rediscovered Californian Photographer