Through my research and creative activities, I magnify and amplify events and objects that are easily missed or obscured by our usual way of dealing with reality. For many years I have consciously made images every day, emphasizing the performative elements involved, yet operating as a formalist visual artist, focusing in on the thing itself, framing it, increasing the intensity of the detail. The subjects of my research are personal identities and interpersonal relations of public space, privacy, property, and inheritance through the production of images and audio-visual projects of storytelling. This is real life, but I remix, re-frame, re-contextualize, re-mediate and re-enact in order to get at that very difference between mediated and actual experiences.
Bridging methodical image making with narrative connections, from the deeply personal to intensely political, has become increasingly important to me as an artist.
For some time, underlaying my way of working has been the concept of action: the making, the doing of something, without editing or parsing, mostly as a solitary actor. This practice includes a ritualistic type of memorializing: I made a Polaroid self-portrait daily–more than 4600 images taken on 3,654 consecutive days–for ten years and one day, from July 24, 1999- July 24, 2009. A proto-selfie endurance performance.
Despite the insular aesthetics involved with rigor of daily self-examination of Ten Years and One Day Every Day on Polaroid, there is a persona that seeks interpersonal connections through social-action. As you will see in the Who Is Stealing My Signs? (2004) video, a pre-YouTube video intervention, my work bends toward social mobilization and political action, paving a way for my documentary work of the historic 2011 Wisconsin protests and subsequent recall elections.
More recently I have been further developing storytelling and photographic work about a trip to Poland to research the character of a lost culture alongside the Carpathian Mountains. While there, I unexpectedly discovered the site of my great-grandmother’s murder. Dark Tourist Seeks Lost Galitzianers’ Treasure, as a photo essay, reveals the stunning beauty of the place and the generosity of the people as a surreal contradiction to the deep shock of learning the intricacies of genocide.
Lately, I have become interested in producing objects of personal meaning–not just for my own, but for the people I associate with and surround myself with. Dear Family: I Love You is such an example- both a menagerie of families that make up my home community and an invitation for social exchange. Laurentian Internationale, too, is a series that documents manners and customs within personal and collective experiences, exploring one family’s connection, over five generations, to the land and their practices to preserve the social culture and natural resources.
As an artist committed to this kind of work, I am drawn to its power and utility, vis-a-vis journalistic aesthetics and empiricism, to engage with thoughtful action towards a vision of positive, sustainable human cultures. I very much appreciate the collaboration of people and institutions that continue to join me in pursuing these goals.