Barbara Astman, ‘untitled #8, Stone’, 1993, Corkin Gallery

About Barbara Astman

Whether household wares or store-bought novelty items such as key-chains, mugs, and ashtrays, much of Barbara Astman’s work involves the use of objects, which she imbues with memories and histories in an attempt to “dematerialize” her materials and make personal the impersonal. In installations such as Clementine Suite (2006) and Enter Through the Giftshop (2011), or series such as “Newspapers” (2006) and “The Red Series” (1981), she explores the role that mundane objects play in forming our personal and collective histories while commenting on our consumer culture. Astman was one of the first artists to use the Polaroid in her art, treating the medium more like a three-dimensional, malleable material than a flat, two-dimensional surface. She often photographs self-portraits that have been carefully choreographed, so that her image becomes abstracted, a symbol of a constructed memory. Then, in a process of scratching into, enlarging, xerox-ing or printing over, she manipulates the photograph, emphasizing its quality as an object even further.

Canadian, b. 1950, Rochester, New York, based in Toronto, Canada