Photo Essay: Kristen Swartz "{re}moved"

The photography exhibition “{re}moved” comprising work from Texas Tech MFA candidate Kristen Swartz is on view at the TTU satellite gallery. Swartz’ heavily manipulated photography addresses itself to memory, place, and the complicated interactions of one’s family with the aforementioned.

The photographs have the heavy grain of a 1970’s home movie, lending each the sense of nostalgia evoked by the viewer’s (presumed) own family photographs. These intensely home-invoking textures, forms, and occasionally faces make their collective point partly through the effect of the images themselves and partly through their placement in the gallery’s White Cube structure.

Each is a petri dish of memories the viewer doesn’t specifically have, but in which she can partake within the geometric confines of each frame. Swartz surfaces these vicarious memories consistently in each work, enabling each to stand on its own as well as in their assigned spots in the exhibition.

The sense of place is due, I think entirely, to each work’s quality of making you feel like the thing shown (even if a vague pattern of fabric) was near you; that is, the sense of place is secondary to the sense of nearness in each work. Your place is nothing geographic or temporal, but where you were. The work’s power, somewhat unusually, draws from its lack of specificity.

*The author's opinions are his own.

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