Thursday, March 27, 2014

Speaking Portraits

This piece, called Speaking Portraits: Persons in Historical Photographs Speak About Conflict and Tension, is an outgrowth of my work with 19th Century cabinet cards, which are albumen prints, a process invented in 1850. I found the portraits on these cards to be almost struggling to speak, as though if you put your ear up to the photograph you might hear it talking to you!

Several years ago the late Susan Russell came to my studio with an antique record album. "I think you can do something with this," she said. I thought it was an appealing object, but couldn't think of how I might use it. But when I was working with the cabinet cards, I remembered the album, and thought the photographic images might exactly fit inside the round holes cut out to display the record labels. And it was so! This project was a completely new departure for me that involved mostly work in Photoshop and a lot of writing.

I created a label template that I customized and printed out,  and then I cut around each of the labels and and pasted it over the label of an existing record. So you pull the record out of its sleeve behind the portrait and the label gives you the title of the "issue" and the text of what the person in the portrait was "saying". The text in the red circle on the outside of each label says, THIS RECORDING GIVES VOICE TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE LONG DEAD AND THEIR STRUGGLES TO SPEAK THEIR TRUTH.

After an introduction on the first page, the subsequent facing pages have two people making statements in which their perspectives differ. For example, here are the two entitled Husbands' Thoughts (left) and Wives' Thoughts (right):

Here are two summary/overview pages that show each of the persons and his or her statements:

 I am very pleased with this project, and though I don't think it's a direction I will keep moving in since it's a bit too fussy for my natural way of working, it has been good for me to work a bit more on "fit and finish", as Mark Waskow says.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Holy shit, Mom. This is amazing.