The Present

2020 | Photograph | ed. 3 + 1AP

The Present stages the intricate and ambiguous nature of gift-giving: a solace and a potential burden. Performed by the artist herself and her grandmother, the subjects in this photograph pass a painting from one generation to another from the ground floor of a rural, abandoned shed to a wooden plank. In this scenery of dim lights on old white stone walls, the grandmother holding the canvas for her young niece casts a large shadow on the floor of this empty space. Her role appears grounding. While the young niece balances on the plank trying to hold on to the painting, she is working to hold on to this extraordinary present. Here the gift-giving appears like a transgenerational pact on the shoulders of the young elevating the ideas past “upwards” from an old generation to new heights. The painting mirrors the materiality and surface of the rural space in a grey-white layered texture creating a “Trompe-oeil” that blurs the lines between the photographed space and artistic representation on the canvas; between the photographic realism of the picture and the world of fiction opened up by the acrylic paint on the canvas; between the present of the recorded moment on camera and the infinity of the artwork. The gift then itself transcends the act of gift-giving. The Present in its two-folded meaning then also creates another sense of time within the generational rupture between the two women in this picture. It opens up a new form of present for the presence of heritage within their shared history as women placed between the shadows on the ground and the light from the windows – between duty and hope – staging the gift-giving as an uncanny ascension.