When I see antique objects or old portraits of people for sale in antique stores or elsewhere, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to dispose of their family heirlooms. Why do antique objects end up in the garbage? Why do they become a display piece for sale for the world to see? Why are these objects not being passed down to the next generation? Why do some family members not want to fairly disperse their heirlooms to others within the family? Where are the remaining family members to whom these possessions may be given?
My body of work is called the Abidan Series. (“Abidan” is an old English word meaning “to remain alive”.) This work consists of a series of digital photographs; each photograph is made up of three images layered and blended into one unified image. One component image is of an antique object, the second is a photograph of a portrait from the time period between the 1800s and the early 1900s, and the third is an overlay of texture. These three layered images create a new narrative of the past, the present, and the unknown. The portraits in my work give possible answers as to who the objects could have belonged to, whereas the objects themselves symbolize the memories of the people they once belonged to, and the texture represents a dimension of the unknown of where the soul may go when humans pass on.
I often question the history of objects from the past and wonder or imagine the lives of the people who used these objects originally. People such as myself, are attracted to these objects for various reasons - to recall a certain person or memory, to reminisce over a moment in time, to evoke a feeling within them, or for the overall esthetic. Objects are left behind in a physical sense, while the memories of those who used these objects are left behind in spirit. As an artist, I layer images of these people, objects and textures together to create a new narrative locked in time that could possibly answer questions regarding those who may have owned a certain object from the past.
Antique objects are so rich with history that they not only give material evidence of a culture from a certain time period, they also can create an identity for those who may have previously owned the object. The wear and tear of antiques show the history of the object throughout the years from the people who either created them or used them in their everyday lives. Furthermore, in the present day, it can sometimes be difficult to find American made products. For all of these reasons and more, antiques have become popular to reclaim, repair, or renovate. It is currently popular to manufacture various objects that re-create the esthetic of antiques, but these newly-produced items will never have the exact quality of a 100 year old object full of organic chips, rust, dents, or textures.
The pairing of the portraits and the objects within the Abidan series does not always match the norm of society’s long established gender roles. The concept of masculinity and femininity is often extended to objects, which have been assigned based upon a person’s sex. A broom is often associated with women whereas a grandfather clock is frequently correlated with a man. During the 1800s and early 1900s there was a stigma attached to what men and women should or should not do when it came to daily activities and objects they used. These objects not only told a story of how the people lived, but also helped to define them as male or female. In my body of work I show a more modern approach to who could have used these objects from the past rather than resorting to conventional associations. It is important for to me to show that men and women can succeed in any gender role without the stigma of the traditional ways.
The layers of textures represent the unknown. I like to believe and imagine that our spirits as humans live on after we pass on. The fact that we are all destined to die is something I think of often. What happens when we die? Will we be forgotten? These questions of death, haunts me. According to the quantum theory, energy is transformed or transferred in an atomic or molecular scale. Since the human body is made up of atoms and ions, I theorize that our energy could possibly be transmitted from our bodies to a different place when we die. In my work, I present this theory that when humans pass away they could exist through the memories of objects, from the memories of others or in other dimensions not seen to the normal eye – thus, remaining alive. Even though my conclusions to these questions may be suitable to me, the answers –ultimately remain a mystery.