Through Your Ghosts, Darkly
November 10th -December 15th, 2007
Reception: November 17th, 6-8pm
Tarryn Teresa Gallery is pleased to announce the debut solo exhibition of Santa Monica-based artist Claressinka Anderson.
Claressinka Anderson’s series of eight large-scale photographs present an intimate chronicle of three generations of her mother’s family from their roots in the Czech Republic. Anderson is captivated by the ephemeral nature of memory and its metaphorical consonance with liminal spaces: doors; windows; mirrors; and corridors. Windows are a prominent feature of Through Your Ghosts, Darkly; they serve as a symbol of both the porous psychic boundary between past and present and of the photographic lens itself. The interaction between one’s subjective memories and the permanence of the photographic medium is a unifying theme throughout Anderson’s pieces.
It is for this reason that Anderson eschewed digital enhancement and actually travelled to the Czech Republic to stage these photographs. Using the same slide projector located in the front of the gallery, Anderson projected photographs of her mother’s childhood onto the same physical locations where they were originally taken. Anderson notes that she included her mother in these new photographs because she wanted “to photograph my mother now, as part of her past.” As a young woman, Anderson’s mother fled communist Czechoslovakia and was unable to return until after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Shortly after her mother’s escape, Anderson’s grandfather died suddenly, without ever reuniting with his daughter. Anderson’s series therefore represents a cathartic expression of familial continuity. By returning to their ancestral land, Anderson and her mother reckon with their past, their family’s past and the history of the Czech Republic.
The projected image in each photograph functions for the subject as a physical presence of the memories that influence and define her present reality. In each piece, the present must confront a literal representation of the past. With each photograph, Anderson creates a completely unique space where the past and present exist simultaneously on the negative itself. The photographs exude a quiet, meditative quality which presents the viewer with the opportunity to consider how their own memories affect how they view and shape their present.
In Untitled, Anderson’s adult mother stands in the shadows below the window of the room in which she was born. Anderson’s mother is not immediately apparent to the viewer, who instead first gravitates to the lit window and the adjacent image of her mother as a young woman in summer clothes sitting calmly in the same window. Gradually, the viewer appreciates the figure standing in her heavy winter clothes beneath the ghostly apparition. Each figure serves to balance the photograph, creating light and dark, each image anchoring the other: neither the summery image of her mother’s youth nor the present-day woman in winter can exist without the other. The co-existence of past and presence also illustrates an important aspect of this series’ thesis: that memory is a ghost, “an actual physical presence that haunts us.”
An individual’s memory and its implications for the present are not limited to a single person, however; Anderson argues that familial history functions as a kind of memory. Her original poem, which serves as an introduction to this series and is projected on the gallery wall, begins: “Three women I hold in me…,” and continues: “even those that cannot write remember still…” Anderson is quietly, but assertively, inserting herself into the work: the lens functions again as a type of window or corridor, fluidly connecting Anderson with her mother’s past.
Anderson’s unique combination of specificity and universality are encompassed in her exhibition’s title: Through Your Ghosts, Darkly. An interpolation of a passage from the King James translation of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, the title speaks to both the timelessness of these themes and to their adaptability to an individual’s personal stories.
About the Artist
Claressinka Anderson was born and raised in London, England. She was educated at Columbia University and the University of the Arts, London. In 2001, shortly after these photographs were finished, she became seriously ill. This is her first exhibition since her recovery. She is writing a novel which explores similar themes of freedom and memory. She continues to explore the role of the past in our lives and how it affects us through memory, a theme which has been a driving force in Anderson’s life and work.
For more information please contact the gallery.