Two selections from Susan E. Evans’s Saga series—site-specific installations of “a constructed idealized Americana family narrative”—are featured at the PRC, Kid’s Shrine and Wall Group. Each piece alludes to a different interior space and consists of numerous photographs consisting of white words on black backgrounds. These images, created by photographically printing the typed words, describe invented people and scenes which are then set up to create and comment upon exaggerated domestic tableaux.
Evans encourages each exhibiting venue to locate furnishings and create spaces for which she provides the trinkets and trophies. In installing this work, I as curator imitate a domestic version of museum practice. I recall how photographs are displayed in my parent’s home: clustered on the television, nestled on the end table, scattered down a hall. Ideas of the index and tracing figure in the photographs as well as several quintessential accessories (bronzed baby shoes and plaster of paris handprints). In Evans’s photographs, however, there is no person or object in front of the camera. Swimming against a deep sea of black, the words in Saga could be read as epitaphs. Evans literally gives us a blank slate—names, descriptions, and our own imagination serve to animate the fictitious extended nuclear nexus.
Evans received her MFA from Cornell University and currently teaches at Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College. She has worked at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. She is included in numerous collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Center for Creative Photography, and the Musée de L’Elysée (Lausanne, Switzerland).
Saga is a constructed idealized Americana family narrative that consists of several different parts; the wall photograph tableau, the shelf, mantle or table tableau, albums, the family home video and the family heritage archive. Saga, is a site specific installation that becomes individual to each location just as the presentation of the family narrative changes from one home to the next.
Saga is an installation that explores three idealized visual metaphors created photographically for the family itself: a state where ties are rooted in property, spiritual assembly based on shared values and morals, and a bond of feeling that stems from instinct and passion. Examining this set of visual rules that shape our experience and memory will enable visualization of a point where public and private, social and psychological structures collapse within one another. Today, family imagery is not so concerned with showing the family in a state of grace; rather that it is well adjusted. Pleasure has replaced stability as most important family goal, yet, imagery still clings to metaphors of family unity and cohesion to maintain the illusion of values we as a society no longer have.
Visit www.susaneevans.com for more information about this artist.
CAPTION: Susan E. Evans (Jamesville, NY), SAGA, 2004, mixed media, variable size, courtesy of the Ricco/Maresca Gallery, Chelsea, NY. Evans received her MFA from Cornell University and currently teaches at Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College. Her work is included in collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Center for Creative Photography, and the Musée de L’Elysée (Lausanne, Switzerland).