The farther I remember at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery
Words by Diana McClure / Photographs by Anders Jones
The mystery and virtuosity of expressing memory are on view in a curiously interesting group show of photographs, The farther I remember, at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery. The cadre of photographers on view, including Carolle Bénitah, Robin Cracknell, Eava Hannula, and Susanne Wellm, form an international grouping of artists with distinct styles. However, each artist makes the life of interiority, where memories are housed, accessible to viewers.
The work as a whole presents recognizable cues, such as old family photos and images of childhood, as well as a variety of techniques, most notably, the layering of imagery that illuminates the passage of time and its mind-altering effects. Of note is the astute curatorial choice of color relationship amongst the work of the four artists. The palette is grounded in black and white with pops of color and texture that distinguish each group of images.
Bénitah’s work as a fashion designer, prior to the last fifteen years she has spent as a photographer, is evident in her mixed media images. Sewing and beading work are woven into old family photographs as a way of transforming family history. The color red is dominant in much of the stitching and beading directing the viewers eye to the power of the transformer and perhaps to key players in Bénitah’s storytelling.
Iconic psychoanalytic theoretician Sigmund Freud is referenced in the work of Hannula. In staged photographs multiple narratives collide in toned down surrealist imagery. Her choice to adhere to a color palette of three makes the somewhat incomprehensible images alluring by bracketing dream-like imagery in neatly composed clips. In some of her images a feeling of motion is generated by this technique creating a sense of being at the center of a story with an unknown beginning and end. Time is disrupted and rendered non-linear.
Cracknell’s use of a soft muted color palette is reminiscent of hues on lazy summer days and early fall afternoons. He is known for using discarded film cuttings as part of his production process. In several images aspects of a young boy’s face are covered – a mouth with what looks like a bandage, eyes with the boys arms, a face blocked out with a white dot, and eyes covered with a black line through a photograph. What is unseen and unspoken seems to be at play in much of the work.
Lastly, Wellm, who has a background in printmaking, uses multiple techniques including Polaroid, Super 8 film, digital photography and collage to create multilayered images that seem to speak to a less personal dialogue on the topic of time and memory. Landscape, linguistic references and touches of what appears to be hand drawn and somewhat abstract imagery converge to varying degree in her work.
The farther I remember offers a refreshing and innovative vision on where photography can go when technique, subjectivity and universal themes are interlaced with grace and subtlety. It also offers, intentionally or not, a quietly powerful intrigue, quality, and creative force as a group show offering.