Huger Foote’s Scarred Photographs Expand the Photographic Moment
The stories within Huger Foote’s images don’t stop with the still moments he captures on film. For the new body of work in “Now Here Then,” currently on view at David Lusk Gallery, the artist sifted through his extensive archive of discarded images, looking for past moments that could be revived and given a new future. Between 2005 and 2008, Foote lived with and worked into the found images by exposing them to a combination of physical weathering and experimental editing processes, the result of which is a series of rough, tactile artifacts that bear the scars of time and their continuous making.
The oldest image in the show dates back to Foote’s early adolescence, a photo of his mother lying in their Memphis backyard, shot with his first camera, at around the age of 13. The other works span the decades since then in a loose, non-narrative journey—a mixture of portraits, landscape shots, and more abstract compositions where color and light collide to create dreamlike impressions. Most of the images evoke a sense of passing moments—those instants between major events when time advances more subtly. The ethereal nature of the compositions is heightened by the prints’ fragile materiality. A double-exposed still life of flowers is obscured by a frenzied network of scratches that begin to reveal the fibers of the photographic paper, while a burn in the upper left-hand corner ruptures the surface; a waterscape is steeped in a blueish tint, a sign of decay from aging. In different ways, the same chemical processes that first created each image, were later involved in decomposing it. In a way, the alchemy of photography reflects the memories that photographs encapsulate.
Whether through damage inflicted by time, or evidence of the artist’s hand finding new visions in images years after they were first taken, each of the photographs is a unique combination of technique and chance. Together they present a layered metaphor for the present moment. New stories emerge within each frame as we wonder not only where the initial photograph was taken, but where it has been ever since.
“Now Here Then” is on view at David Lusk Gallery, Nashville, Oct. 6th–Nov. 14th, 2015.
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