Whether it happened or not
“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.”
Whether it happened or not is a series of compositions made entirely of projected slides. The works draw from a second pass through the artist’s enormous archive of family photographs, and incorporate pictures she continues to make in the New England school-house-turned-home where she spent the first 17 years of her life. Wood’s interest lies in photographing the present, using the past to describe a cumulative history that is the present. She arranges photographic space from both old photographs and newly authored images to understand a visual and personal history as it influences her perception today. Whether it happened or not is an act of organizing chaos and composing a view that asserts the way things exist in the artist’s mind. These are works that reflect what she remembers and wants to stabilize, complete, and believes should be not be forgotten. Wood is resisting loss. This happened, this is real, these images exist now, whether it happened or not.
The range of her archive contains an overwhelming amount of information in the form of small transparent rectangles of life: parties, portraits, pets, artworks, piles of books, birthdays, holidays, furniture, renovations, storage, boxes, windows, landscapes, and empty rooms. The artist’s father and mother made most of the oldest photographs, along with some made by visitors and other unknown authors. Wood has also discovered her own images in the family archive, made in the house as a child with her first film cameras. Over the past ten years Wood has revisited the house to photograph both what persists of the past and what has changed. The archive continues to grow – but more slowly now. This work is in a sense collaborative, an accumulation and an expression of a subjective construction. Wood stakes a claim in her choice of which images to put together, defining her own memory and the potency of it.
Whether it happened or not evolved out of her previous body of work, I have only what I remember. The use of slide projection continues in the current body of work, though the intentions and process are independent. Whether it happened or not is made exclusively in the studio using the traces of a history marked out through lived spaces. It relies on images from film projected to reconstitute what otherwise could not be seen and articulated. New images coalesce with old to examine the idiosyncrasies and slippage of memory that define experience. The present contains the past and the future wouldn’t exist without either – building artwork that lives in the present and not allowing some ideas to slip into the dark.