Taking a Look at Autobiographical Images

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Viewing autobiographical images is often a relational experience. Within contemporary art, autobiographical work opens up the possibility of creating new kinds of relationships between people of different backgrounds. It can operate both as a representation transference of lived experience and as an apparatus for experiential, relational viewing. When viewers encounter work that deals with the autobiography of the artist, they engage cognitive and affective processes that often involve identification and memory. In this practice of relational viewing, the artist’s work functions as a powerful catalyst for memory, whereby viewers draw upon their own life stories to connect with the work. Consequently, the viewer not only perceives the image in the present, but projects it back the artist’s and their memory, body and being. Contemporary artists Rebecca Belmore and Nan Goldin explore their own memories and past experience through their portrayal of the body. Their use of body language is quite deliberate at creating subtle tension between the viewer and the work that evokes this aforementioned relational viewing. Belomore’s “Firnge” (2007/08) a photographic transparency in a light box draws on not only the memories of her past, but the aboriginal culture and people she attempts to represent. Goldin also represents a wider group then herself, the New York Bohemians. Rebecca Belmore is an Anishanaabe Ontario born multi disciplinary artist currently working in Vancouver, BC.
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