Time Passing

From my earliest days as an artist I have been interested in making work about the passage of time. The piece I consider to be my first work as an adult artist is an etching, a composite family portrait/landscape, a work I produced in college. In it, I drew from two photographs, one of my grandparents and one of my toddler father. There is a stage set of sorts, columns and a backdrop, in the studio portrait taken of my grandparents at the turn of the 20th century in Warsaw. There is a checkerboard floor in the portrait of my father as a young boy, taken in New York where the family had fled, escaping the pogroms and the Russian army. And there is a New England interior and landscape - the window sill of my dorm room, the winter and spring, depicted simultaneously, outside that window sill. There is a melding of locations, and even eras and continents in a single picture plane. Time passes from inch to inch in this etching, from corner to corner, from foreground to back. I have continued over the years to be interested in this depiction of time passing, through my years as a printmaker and then as a painter, and now as an artist with a camera.

 

In all of the portfolios that I have worked on over the last 4 or 5 years, I have continued this exploration. In SILVER SCREEN, I photographed, with my iPhone, the TV broadcasting the movies that my mother loved. I captured fleeting moments on a small screen, images harkening back to, and depicting the stars of, the 20s, 30s and 40s. This portfolio consisted of both single images and images in grid form, a structure that fairly insists one notices the passage of time - one’s eye moves from frame to frame, making the viewer aware of the process of seeing and the time it takes to see. But even with the single images, there are implications of the multiple, the many, the sequence. In their compression of a face, by shooting the TV at an oblique angle, in the falling in and out of focus, the ghosting that sometimes happens as the shot moves, I am still implying that notion that obsesses me. This overriding theme continues through the Silver Screen: Dancers portfolio as well as through the Legacy portfolio that follow SILVER SCREEN and precede my current work. 

 

As I have moved into making polyptychs in various shapes, I have continued to be concerned with this same notion, the desire to manifest in a concrete way, to make palpable this interest, this obsession with time passing. The modular makeup of these pieces enhances that sense of watching oneself see, watching the seconds pass. I spoke to the way this happens in my narrative, the way the empty center of the Bi Squares encourages the viewer to meditate on both what has come before and what might come in future. The Glandon Drive lintel seems to present a fork in the road, a choice, and a portal you are invited to pass through, to meander and contemplate what might be. The crosses give the viewer a structure to peruse, up and down, left and right, the here and now of the vertical and the past moving to the future of the span of the horizontal.

 

I have often wondered why this is, why I am obsessed with this idea. My father died when I was 20, and I think that has had great significance for me in the path I chose, and what, specifically, I chose to represent. He, too, was obsessed with making images in the moments he was not working, consumed with reproducing, taking hundreds and hundreds of photos with a variety of cameras, photos that, of course, stopped time. But he also took scores of 8mm movies, and even recorded our family seders on reel to reel tape. I think my obsession with making art, with representation in and of itself, and representation about time specifically, resonates with his obsession, brings us closer, somehow, helps to bridge the abyss of the 44 years since he stopped moving through time.