Fisher/Wall Art Gallery

Janet Ballweg

January 5 – February 24, 2019 | Reception Thursday, January 24 from 6pm-7:30pm

This body of work uses images of common household objects, elevated to the status of an icon, to encapsulate an intimate moment in time. I am interested in the object as index, leading the viewer from the image to its function, e.g. a telephone = waiting for and/or dispensing news; window blinds = concealing and revealing; a gift = giving and receiving. While each object represents an understood purpose, I attempt to shift the objectivity of the object to a subjective reading by using it to mask an underlying image, creating a subtext of something hidden yet important. The images beneath, partially disguised, depict domestic scenes that provide an account of paired relationships set within a charged space (namely the kitchen) where gender and sexuality are intertwined with issues of power and vulnerability. Additional matters of conflict regarding privacy, territory, and the loss of identity are often explored within these scenes.  Overall, this body of work explores the ways in which patterns shape our lives and the ways in which constructions of memory, experience and gender are embodied in the domestic landscape. It is an attempt to render visible the larger façade of domesticity where intimacy and desire are pitted against discord, disaffection, refusal, and isolation. On a metaphysical level, this work is about presence and absence and the manifestation of an unattainable desire, and thus, it speaks of longing.  In this light, I choose to present each moment as sterile – not as the messy lived experience of everyday life but rather as a stripped down, barren version that speaks of “void” – as a way to render visible that which is invisible – the tension of silence, unspoken conversations, and misspoken words. The viewer as voyeur is allowed only a glimpse of the scene, just enough to recognize a narrative of familial drama and question what is, was, or was meant to be.

This work is also about memory, or rather, the construction of memory. While the imbedded scenes are derived loosely from personal narratives, the staging of the images via 3d modeling is intended to create an illusion of truth while simultaneously exposing the scene as pure invention.  I envision the result as a “fake photograph,” an image that is meant to question and distort authenticity, a metaphor for the uncertainty of memory in which reality and the imagined intermingle. As such, the images are fragments that connect to a re-imagined past, a work of fiction which appears grounded in reality yet offers a sense of the uncanny or “hyperreal” that would not be possible in real life. This fictional approach references the way we create stories over time, stories that are not always contingent upon facts, but rather upon our psychological needs. What happened to us, what we imagine has happened to us, and what we remember becomes intertwined into a personal “truth.”  To aid the questioning of reality, I print these images as CMYK bitmaps to reference the grain of a photograph, in hopes that the mark-making of the bitmap will lead the viewer from the image to the dots that created it – a visual deconstruction of the image/memory.  Likewise, the neutral black line drawing that encases the domestic narrative is intended to suggest emotional distance, denying the trace of my hand and moving the image from the realm of personal memory to an imagined collective memory.  Ultimately, I want viewers to have a vague sense of recognition of this moment as a common lived experience.