I Noticed Your Limp as You Got Up to Leave the Kitchen
Jodi Boatman, Newspace, 1632 SE 10th, through Dec 4
We tend to think of memory as something stable, in which our remembering an event or feeling is akin to replaying a home movie in our head. More accurately, our memories are transformed over time by inevitable forgetting and misremembering. In the end, we're left with fragmented impressions that revisit us, hardly a reliable version of personal history. This understanding of memory—as an entity constantly in flux and deeply subjective—is the catalyst for I Noticed Your Limp as You Got Up to Leave the Kitchen, the current show at Newspace by Athens, Ohio-based photographer Jodi Boatman.
According to Boatman, her series of aluminum-mounted prints was inspired by a picture of her as a five-year-old at an Easter egg hunt. While the picture is an absolute document of her past, Boatman marvels over her estrangement from her memory of the event, unable to recall any detail not recorded in the photograph. And so I Noticed Your Limp is composed of abstract and impressionistic imagery that more capably conjures moods and tones than it communicates cold, hard facts. Each piece is composed of two panels. On the right are blurry images of mundane landscapes, in which industrial buildings and trees are captured out of focus, projecting an expressive sense of motion. The left half of these diptychs present close-up images of interior spaces that function more as textural treatments than actual settings: the folds and floral patterns of orange drapes, the grass-like threads of a green and brown shag carpet, wood-paneled doors of an accordion closet, and so on.
For the viewer, the knee-jerk reaction is to link the two images and identify a logical relationship between them. But these images resist such tidy interpretations, insisting instead on less obvious associations. Even Boatman's titles, such as "On the Landing Shivering and Waiting for You to Leave," contribute to this effect, pointing toward some inaccessible event from the artist's personal history. Like tourists in her subconscious, we can't know what Boatman's images mean, per se, but the high aesthetic impact of her photographs means we won't be able to forget them.