Negotiating perception, memory and the connections between space and time, Alice Hargrave documents natural sceneries of exotic flora and fauna, deep waters and towering palm trees, but instead of alluding to sunny skies and relaxing, island beaches, she gives her imagery an enigmatic, almost melancholic twist.
In one video work and twenty-five large-format photographs, “Paradise Wavering” blends the past and the present as the artist re-photographs decades-old family-vacation snapshots and combines them with new imagery, reimagining the quintessential picture of a tropical paradise. Between personal memory, nostalgia and reminiscence, Hargrave gives a darker, almost post-apocalyptic spin to idyllic sceneries: Prairies, valleys, green waters and thick-leaved rainforests become dreamlike landscapes reminiscent of places once warm and familiar. Vivid colors—heavy pinks, purples, greens and blues—transform materials from her family’s archive of 8mm films into different worlds, distant and elusive. It is amidst these manipulations of color, focus, tone and emotion that the artist proves the delicate balance between photograph and memory. What do we actually remember and how do we remember it? How familiar is a memory and what colors—literally and figuratively—our perception of it?
Posing such questions, “Paradise Wavering” moves beyond the vernacular of family photography into deeper explorations of human experience, perception and the photographic medium itself. In a hazy, phantasmagoric atmosphere where the artist’s distinct moods and emotions are heavily imprinted on the images, the exhibition exists between light and darkness. It is there, in the dusk of twilight that colors are richer and shadows are starting to shape. There, dichotomies are more evident than ever—family-vacation pictures become beautifully haunting landscapes, nature’s force meets its vulnerability, memory becomes obsolete and color contaminates perception. (Vasia Rigou)
Through July 24 at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 South Cornell