I have the opportunity to spend three weeks in Svalbard, Norway for an artistic residency on board a barkentine sailboat as a resident in the Arctic Circle Residency. My work explores the spirit of human exploration and the history of Arctic expeditions.You can imagine how being immersed in that same extreme environment will impact the work that I create, expanding upon and evolving my thesis work into something richer, informed by personal experience. Svalbard was a point of embarkation for many arctic expeditions and is steeped with that history; visiting the archipelago that launched so many of these historical explorations is an immense opportunity for my work.
The title Reconstructions comes from the Reconstruction Era a period in our country after the civil war that focused on the transformation of the Southern States. It was a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the US, so the title lends itself to that term, and ideas that are reflected in the work. In many ways it is a snapshot of my life. On one level I am doing my own reconstructing by interpreting if you will events and ideas around slavery, and history. I’m putting myself in places of New York City’s colonial past. Events that we still have to contend with, so there are many reconstructions going on. On the other side I am playing with the family album recreating what that means for my daughter and I.
When I first heard that I had a mere five minutes to present my work at Slidefest, I felt anxious. Every associative concept and tangential project I’d worked on felt too important to leave out. That five-minute time limit started to feel suffocating. I decided to narrow my options down. What was at the core of my recent practice? What would get across the soft, warm nugget at the core of my past year’s experience?
My work while I’ve been at ICP has circled around a number of things, from aviation pioneers to step-parents’ step-parents. More recently, however, it has been focused on Nantucket. I spent many of my summers and holidays, most especially as a teenager, on the island. But I feared focusing on my personal relationship with the island would be a dead end, both in my work and for my Slidefest presentation. I wanted to be in collaboration with that place as a Place, not with my own teenaged remembrances.
Photography has this incredible breadth to it. Photographs have been made of everything from DNA and microorganisms to stars, galaxies and nebulas. Pictures have come back to us from the farthest reaches of space and the depths of the ocean, from high above us and deep underground. What photography is also fantastic at is using that available breadth it has to trick your sense of scale… and that can result in surprising and wonderful images.
My initial reaction to the pressures of grad school was to cling on to photographers whose work I thought was beautiful. I felt overwhelmed by the multitude of directions I could take my work, and thought (rightly so) that looking at other artists’ work would spur me on. I decided on Rinko Kawauchi, and started to gather photographs of hers that I found most appealing. I said to myself (not so rightly) “I will emulate this and it will be beautiful and that will be that!” When my teacher asked me a few days later who I was looking at lately and I gleefully said “Kawauchi!” her response to me was “You need to stop looking at her work.”
A fifty year old murder-spree across the northern plain states inspired one of the most highly praised photobooks of 2011. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the constant influx of new, different, and beautifully printed publications, but there are sometimes those that seem to rise above the rest. Redheaded Peckerwood is one of those books.
RRRRRRROLL is a tumblr of simple, amusing, and sometimes beautiful gifs. They are lovely but largely uninteresting photographs, however the imposed movement brings out something in them that was perhaps largely forgettable or overlooked otherwise. It’s yet another innovative use of the gif format, but enhanced by the quality and complexity of the scenery, the expressive and mysterious leading lady, and the sense of the peculiar that is present throughout the whole series (which continues to grow weekly). Gifs have been around for well over two decades now, and have gone from fun website decorations and AIM-profile enhancers to avatars, popular applications like cinemagram, and in fact an entire and hugely multifaceted subculture, much of which relies on humour. Along with Rrrrrrrrroll, a few others who have been using gifs in more artful ways include Ignacio Torres and duo Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg (who have coined the term Cinemagraphs for their sharp, clean and often minimal animations)