“I want things to be a little difficult so you have to confront these images and negotiate your own stakes and the ways you are implicated in them,” explains Lauren Edwards on the eve of her upcoming exhibition “In the Turn.” Edwards, who completed her MFA at UIC earlier this year, uses found images she sources from the Internet and sculptural installations that aim to consider the psychological ways images are apprehended and used to script an understanding of one’s environment. Often employing pictures of nondescript landscapes, Edwards aims to call attention to how viewers create meaning and context for what they encounter. “These things are totally unspecific,” she says. “Using these images of nonspecific places is a way to underscore this liminal threshold space.”
Edwards is currently researching sites in California that the film studio Paramount has used to convincingly portray other locales across the globe. She has been working with images of forests meant to stand in for her native New England, “but there’s something off about it; the trees don’t feel like they’re actually native. I’m interested in questioning how much is needed to transport us to that other place.” One such image has been embedded into the front of a freestanding set wall in the gallery, itself an imitation of the white cube gallery where it will stand. Edwards’ sculptural components underscore how one’s understanding of place is itself constructed from images, simulacra and memories.
In another project, she is looking at more theatrical approaches to understanding the past. “These are images of reenactments: two are Medieval and this one is from Colonial Williamsburg. They occupy this psychological place between past and present that you’re constantly having to vacillate between to reconcile them and see where you fit in between. With these reenactments, we’re going through the motions of having to relive these things as a way to own it. Viewers of these reenactments—or the actors themselves—insert themselves into this history as a way to understand it or to close the gap between their experience and what they want it to be like.” (Matt Morris)
Lauren Edwards shows at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, 835 West Washington, November 16-January 11.