Odette England: Excavations
Often, when we see an old poster scratched and peeled away or objects covered in rust and wear, we consider these artifacts in their original forms, before the ravaging of time and nature removes their vitality. Photographic artist Odette England brings that same ravaging to her family archive, taking them to new considerations about what we remember and what we forget in her series, Excavations. Throughout her practice, Odette has worked with expired film, vintage cameras, damaged negatives, and alternative photo processes; “exploring volatility of identity, emphasizing the unstable nature of the past/present and the parent/child seesaw.”
There are just a few days left to see Odette England’s Excavations on the wall at the Klompching Gallery. Odette will be giving an artist talk on the last day of her exhibition, November 19th, at 4 pm. The exhibition contains one-of-a-kind and unique photographs, “having undergone a meticulous and labor-intensive process of being partially erased and obscured. This process of manual manipulation is evidenced by the trace of the artist’s hand—gestures in the form of lines, sweeping arches and circular movements, through to dense areas of almost total obliteration of the original image. Across the artworks, this stripping away of visual information is carefully balanced with glimpses of substantive visual clues—a sitting figure, a landscape vista, a tree or lamp-post.”
Odette England (b. 1975) is an Australian/British artist, whose artwork has been exhibited across the US and internationally. Awards and accolades include winning the 2012 CENTER Project Launch Award, shortlisted for the 2015 Australian Photo Book Of The Year, Finalist for the 2015 Cliftons Art Prize (Asia Pacific region), and more recently shortlisted for the prestigious 2016 Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Award (Australia). Collections holding her work include the George Eastman Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art and MoCP. England lives and works in Rhode Island.
Preserving family history via photography is like archaeology: it involves the exposure, processing and recording of remains. But to uncover the truth of an image – or at least an interpretation of a truth – a ‘hunt’ or ‘dig’ is required.
Excavations explores the invisible social space of family storytelling through photography. I make c-prints in the darkroom of family pictures from expired Kodak film, as well as using original snapshots from the album, then carefully hand-sand them with various types of sandpaper. I aim to loosen the complexities of material encounter with intangible concepts. Mine is also a literal assault. I cross into taboo territory, the transgression and squeamish horror of destroying original personal possessions.
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