Australian/British artist Odette England (b.1975) explores the invisible social space of family storytelling through photographs by crossing into taboo territory of destroying original personal possessions. Using handmade c-prints and original snapshots from her family archive, she manually manipulates them with sandpaper, erasing and obscuring the memory. England explains that, “Preserving family history via photography is like archaeology: it involves the exposure, processing and recording of remains. But to uncover the truth of an image—or at least an interpretation of a truth—a hunt or dig is required.”
By stripping away visual information around glimpses of substantive visual clues, she situates the subjects outside of their original context and intention. The artist’s own hand movements of lines, sweeping arches and circles, are clearly visible in the images and, because she’s working directly on the source material, each of the works are unique, one of a kind objects. The result is a personal collection of quiet, meditative artworks, incorporating elements of abstraction, preservation of history and nostalgia.
The series Excavations is on exhibit from October 8–November 19, 2016 in the Klompching Gallery, in New York, U.S.