Absence

Balloons losing air, bubbles popping, water evaporating, smoke dissipating-absence is quite present in my work. In the Deflated series, the adhesive coating on the balloons preserved a reference to the air that was once in the balloons, which seeped out and eventually was completely gone. “Bless You is missing the top of the pile of pepper, which is no where to be found. For my performance piece To Cleanse I removed the color from my entire studio so that it almost looked like a sepia toned photograph. Within the desaturated palette, I carefully edited the rest of the contents to include only remnants of other things, like nails in the wall with nothing hanging on them, cardboard boxes, wooden planks, a blank chalk board, an empty plastic water bottle, a white rope hanging from the ceiling.

In Double Dutch, there are three vacant spaces where the “players” should be. In their absence, the viewer is able to fill in the gaps with memories or ideas. It is more beautiful to leave room for the mind to guess and imagine.

Photographer Laura Lentinsky’s alludes beautifully to an implied human presence. Her tablescape still-life series entitled “Morning and Melancholia” (1997-2001) includes crumbs, stains and bits from a seemingly lavish dinner that has been partially cleared away. The table linens are beautifully stained like a painting. The light is bright and clear as if the scene was happened upon the morning after the party. There is so much information contained in such a sparse set up. Emma Pearce from New York Magazine described her images as “…elegant undone tables, always suggesting decadent meals shared, perhaps, between ballerinas”. It’s the elegance, the delicate touch, the painstakingly beautiful mess that really gets me.

The title of the series “Morning and Melancholia” references the clear light bathing the tables in her photographs, but also references an essay by Freud called, “Mourning and Melancholia” which is about the human response to loss. I have been inspired by the massive impact of such paired down visual information–so much is said with so little. It is as much about what is not there as what is.

There was an audio essay from writer Marion Winik that I heard in 2004 called “A girl, a dog and a dad” in which she recounts seeing a girl, a dad and a dog crossing the street toward a bowling alley. They were ordinary–almost generic– and because of this she was able to see them as an entity or the idea of what they were. In her mind, they were translated to the streets of a war torn country from the news articles she had been reading. She called them “ghosts in real life”. This phrase even more than the essay itself has haunted me and inspired me to create work with room to guess, infer and imagine.

RELATED: Deflation, Pullstrings, No Vacancy, Double Dutch, Decadent meals shared, perhaps, between ballerinas, Performance, Exploring Themes, Ghosts

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