Source Material, an exhibition at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver curated by Jon Feinstein and Roula Seikaly, features eight photographic projects that engage with archival imagery.
August 13–September 25, 2021
Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver
Source Material, an exhibition at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver curated by Jon Feinstein and Roula Seikaly, features eight photographic projects that utilize archival imagery. The show comes at a time when interest in archival imagery is experiencing a resurgence in parallel with the current revisitation and revision of historical narratives. The projects included in Source Material tend towards the personal, with many of the artists pulling from and altering their family archives either digitally or through collage and photo sculpture.
The project Gentle by Jody Poorwill, which centers on the artist’s kindergarten portrait, is particularly poignant. In a series of alterations of this single archival image, one is layered with blue hues and another is superimposed by an image of a scene of boys playing in water. The series culminates in a portrait of the grown artist with the kindergarten picture projected on their face, so that the child and adult versions of the artist are visible within a single picture plane. The series communicates childhood trauma’s ability to shape adulthood. Alternatively, the process suggests that it is possible to reframe painful personal histories and take control of haunting narratives.
In contrast, Diego Romo had few family photographs in his personal archive. Inspired to create images that could serve as placeholders for his otherwise undocumented family memories, stories, and intimate moments, Romo manipulates found images in his project Lo Que Construimos (what we build). The series questions the infallibility of the relationship between photography and memory by inserting digital or physical disturbances into the images which obscure figures or faces. In Cuatro Hiedas, for example, a trio of figures posing in front of a school bus are obscured by confetti. Romo’s series, along with the other seven exhibiting artists at CPAC, subvert the truthfulness of archival images and make new histories while urging viewers to consider the malleability of photographic imagery.