Through the lens of my camera, the landscape of the family farm and the interiors of our homes become a stage on which our costumed bodies perform identity. The camera functions as a tool that crops, flattens space, freezes time, and silences sound. Photography cuts out all that makes the world around us alive - then, in turn, is the photograph a kind of death? And if the photograph is a death - what, then, does it mean to regenerate an image or to wear it as a costume? My work is grounded in early (Victorian) sentiment around the photograph – a time when it was better to have an image of your dead child than no image at all. This is the starting point for the ‘stand-in’, the photograph as both presence and absence. My current work approaches photography from this history in order to explore our relationship to history.
My practice begins with the narrative. The stories I hear flicker on the theater screen of my mind. My first act of making is a performance for the camera, a reenactment, a way of fixing the mental images conjured by stories; rendering them visible and suspended on the surface of the film. My work attempts to "reverse the camera's crop" by returning space, time, and animation to the latent image of memory. Through a cross-disciplinary approach, I create images and environments inspired by my rural southern landscape and my family’s stories. The resulting works are a surreal collision of the past and the present and straddle the line between fantasy and reality. In time, the photograph becomes a mirror held up for ourselves, for myself - as an investigation of place, the persistence of time, and the identity of my American South. By incorporating forms of installation, performance, storytelling, and regional cultural studies my work attempts to overlap the past and the present – placing the viewer inside the photograph, inside the story, not knowing fully what has come before or what might happen next.
I am motivated by an unfolding narrative that is only revealed to my conscious self in parts. As I look back on the work I have made, I discover characters emerging and chapters unfolding before me. The ineffable nature of this lived narrative is neither didactic nor linear. Instead it is so many threads and my weaving hands, tying them together: the photograph as time frozen, – the camera, a device capable of shapeshifting memory - and the story – as an apparition moving across time and space, resisting stillness and singularity. My work is to embody stories, to move them forward in resistance to the death a photograph may offer.
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