SLIDE SHOW LAND

Slide Show Land is an ongoing body of work which I began in 2001. For over a year I purchased collections of 35mm slides on e-Bay. Boxes of slides, some in special slide cases, some loose and wrapped in bubble wrap and some still in carousels they may have originally been viewed with arrived at the rate of about 2-3 a week. Every day I viewed and sorted these collections of slides into their original sequences and in this process I was reconstructing a series of events that actually happened in someones life. Based on a true story.

I saw my role as an artist as rescuing these historic documents and to keep these families somehow together.

Dating from the 1940’s through to the late 1980’s a collection may be a roll of 36 slides taken during one day, like a wedding or a family get together, while other collections span twenty five years of babies, children growing up, travel and weddings through to funerals and burials. There is a large contingent of slides that document extensive world travel and act not only as a record of places long since changed or not but these are objects that were also created with the intention of an oral medium - the slide show - an experience at times a joy and at others a sentence to be endured. The Slide Show Land project acquired over 300 collections in total approximately 10,000+ slides. Like any collector it is the display and sharing of the collection that brings delight and in this spirit a Slide Show Land exhibition centres around one or more collections as slide projections accompanied by selected singular images preferably printed in cibachrome.

The sound, smell and illumination of slide projectors in the gallery space seeks to connect the viewer to the haptic process these annonymous slides have undergone. To begin to understand the image sequences the work references the ways in which the subject and the photographer interacted both physically and socially with the media and processes; to this end point of it presentation in a gallery space.

While Slide Show Land touches upon realities of death, concepts of loss and sometimes sentimental feelings of reminisence, Slide Show Land is actually very relevant to today. Slide Show Land shows us the pervasive familiarity of the image economy found on facebook and flikr and beyond including contemporary art. The internet loves nostalgia and Slide Show Land should be celebrated as an early example of our self conscious need to document our lives and then share the story of it publicly - a slide show being the precursor to and furnishing the format and language found in the current social media.

Slide Show Land has been shown at Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide. For this exhibition I have combined the slide show collections with the common place furniture where outdated technology is often housed; at the back and bottom of cupboards. A group of 1970’s veneer cupboards have been pulled apart and rebuilt into objects resembling giant trophies combining similar iconography whose function it is to record past achievements as well as a parallel concern in my art practice. Each cupboard houses within them a slide projector and a screen on which the slides are projected via a timer creating a mini travelling/portable and self contained slide museum.

Slide Show Land at Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide (Sept 6 - Oct 6 2012) chooses 3 collections.

1. Slide Show Land 1948
(20 slides) shows a Catholic family with two daughters between the ages of 4-10 years. The father was the photographer as he is only seen in 1 or 2 images the slides begin with pictures of a mother and two daughters posing for portraits in front of the Christmas tree. A few years later the sisters pose in a glow of purity individually or gathered in a small group of other girls on what is ther their First Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.

2. Slide Show Land 1970
(40 slides) tell the story of a house christmas party where the guests appear to get rather drunk in a sequence of 40 photographs we see the lady in the blue dress, laugh, dance, plonk on peoples laps before raising her glass to the camera.

3. Slide Show Land Dorothy and Jack
(2 carousels 80 slides each) One carousel is filled with slides of a dinner table, always set for two where elaborate and hearty meals are displayed - they mark special occassions as the notes on the slides record - St Patricks Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and so on. The second carousel is filled with images of Jack who was an outdoors man and horse rider, each image seems to depict an idealistic vision of a lone cowboy. The dual projection creates pairs of images; interiors and domestic settings and outdoor heroic male cowboy a distinctly male female version of events. In this collection it was the wife Dorothy who was the photographer and she meticuously wrote exposures and details on every single slide which date from 1940s to the mid 1970’s. As she was the photographer she became invisible in the outdoor shots of her husband Jack and from writing on the slides seem to suggest that it may have been Jack who was the ‘cook’ of their house, further disrupting nostalgic gendered ideals depicted in these images.
ELVIS RICHARDSON


ELVIS RICHARDSON