Saturday, April 9, 2016


Excavation No. 8, 2015

Series Title: Excavations
Number of artworks at AIPAD: 2
Edition: 1/1 + 1AP
Size: 18.5"x18.5" image on 22.5"x22.5" sheet
Medium: Unique Archival Pigment Print, scratched with sandpaper
Year: 2015

"Preserving family history via photography is like an archeological excavation: it involves the exposure, processing and recording of remains. But to uncover the truth – or at least an interpretation of the ‘apparent truth’ of an image – a ‘hunt’ or ‘dig’ is required.

My project Excavations explores the invisible social space of family storytelling. I make chromogenic color prints (in the darkroom) of family photographs using vintage Kodak film, as well as using snapshots from the album, and then carefully hand-sand them with various types and grades of sandpaper. Using sandpaper means I can blur detail, smooth areas, roughen up patches, and remove people or landscapes altogether…in other words, grind and polish my past, present, future. I make the importance of the snapshot as a memory-based object more beguiling. New stories emerge through interaction, transforming presence into symbolic absence.

The new images challenge how past events are re-presented to us through imagery and how these can influence what we think and believe."–Odette England.

Develop Before 07/1991 (Kodacolor Gold 200 12),  2014-2015

Series Title: Develop Before
Number of Artworks at AIPAD: 1
Edition: 3 + 1AP
Size: 20"x20" image on 24x24" sheet
Medium: Archival Pigment Print
Year: 2014–2015

Home is the center-weight of Odette England's artistic practice, with memory and forgetting being the counterbalances. Her photographs are fragile, contemplative and temporal spaces. She works with expired film, vintage cameras, damaged negatives and alternative photo processes; exploring the volatility of identity, emphasizing the unstable nature of the past/present and the parent/child seesaw.

The Develop Before series continues these overall themes. 

"Grandpa was a collector – matchboxes, bird’s eggs, seeds, postcards – but one of his most curious collections comprised old Kodak 126 film boxes, each neatly unfolded, held together in a stack with a thin rubber band and placed inside a worn, faded green plastic bag hidden in the back of a freezer.  On the outside of each box, where Kodak had printed 'Develop Before' together with the film’s expiry date (a practice that dates from the end of the 19th century) Grandpa had circled the date in red pen, as if to ensure that the snapshots he took would be revealed at their very best and 'freshest'.
What struck me wasn’t that the boxes themselves had expired, but that they were simultaneously the same and different, much like family snapshots.  There is homogeneity to how we make snapshots the world over, both in terms of subject matter and our behaviour (as subjects ourselves) in front of the lens.  Grandpa's boxes have their own unique marks of age – wrinkles, scars, stains, bruises – things we tend to avoid in family photography.  They were also never intended to be subjects of photography: boxes are simply trash – nothing of value, though to Grandpa, worth something.  I was compelled to photograph them, using a heavily modified Kodak Instamatic, expired photography chemicals and a scanner."—Odette England
Collections holding the work of Odette England include the New Mexico Museum of Art (Santa Fe), George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film (Syracuse) and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago).

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