I cannot overstate the extent to which learning this small anecdote altered my perspective on creation. It seems unfathomably naive now, but at the time, it felt like permission had suddenly been granted—permission to sculpt the worlds I could see but was wary to create, permission to assemble moments I worried had been lost, and most importantly, permission to operate outside the construct of linear time. It became the catalyst for the most ambitious project I’ve embarked on to date: a recreation of the dreams and memories that have defined my life.
Before Immediate Family, I’d been convinced that making photographs by reconstructing moments would result in art that was somehow “less real” than the moments those images allude to. But this led me to realize that either it all had to be real or none of it was. I found myself firmly in the “all of it” camp. What became important wasn’t the imagined accuracy of the minutiae of an event, but to manifest truthfully the feelings it conjured. It’s in the pursuit of this that certain artists are able to uncover a “hyperreality,” a confluence of visual and emotional truth that lives beneath the surface of the materiality we typically perceive. Immediate Family is a stunning example of this.
When the visceral embeds itself in our consciousness as memory and emotion, it may change, warp, and swell, but it does not fade away completely. What was still is and will always be. This is the way we carry trauma, in our bones, in our essential material; I believe it’s also the way we carry ecstasy. Drawing on those experiences and feelings in order to create allows us to define them, understand them, come to peace with them. It allows us to render ourselves real.
Did an artwork change your life?
Artsy and Elephant are looking for new and experienced writers alike to share their own essays about one specific work of art that had a personal impact. If you’d like to contribute, send a 100-word synopsis of your story to [email protected]
with the subject line “This Artwork Changed My Life.”