Saturday, February 28, 2015

Many Iterations

Sometimes it takes a long time to get a piece I am satisfied with. I think this is particularly the case when I'm working on something that has to fit into a theme, or someone else's plan/exhibit/concept.

A case in point is an exhibit that I was invited to produce a piece for that will be part of a storytelling event in a space behind Gallery Six in Montpelier on March 21. The theme is the 1001 Nights, the classical Persian tale in which Scheherazade saves her life by telling stories to the king, stopping each dawn before the end of the story, and taking it up again the next night. The section I chose was the one describing the king's long practice of marrying a virgin one day and then having her killed the next.

I wanted to use scans of young women depicted in the cabinet cards I've been working with recently, and came up with the notion that these young women were discarded and thrown away like unwanted pieces of paper. I started with a lift-top angled box. I've been staining it, but haven't yet figured out how I want to employ it. I chose a variety of papers to ball up, referencing women of different complexions. I always try to represent different races and cultures when I do a piece and, frankly, it has been hard (where diversity is wanted) to work with the old photographs I've been using because they are all white women, collected in New England. I've asked friends who go abroad (like Japan and South America) and to different parts of the country to be on the lookout for cabinet cards of people representative of those places. I know they exist, because this new photographic technology was all the rage and spread across the world like wildfire at the end of the nineteenth century. So they are out there! But not in my possession...

It didn't work. Next time I tried installing the photographs in a more complex container:

But still the photos and the paper were not integrated. Finally I realized that the photos were paper and the paper was paper, and the photos should be on the paper. Ah! I printed them on a lighter paper (vs. glossy cardstock), and I think this will work, presented on standing mounts I used for my Museum Cases project in 2006. There are hatchmarks carved into the front of the container. I will try to get better images if I decide to keep this version.

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