Bittersweet: Memoirs of Time Passing
Olivia Phare / Kim Sweet / Kendra Sollars
Opening: May 1st, 7-10pm.
“I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.” – Joseph Chamberlain, 1898
“Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos." – Feng Menglong, 1672
People can still remember debating if we were exiting or entering into a panoply of neo-modernisms, or if the postmodern age had been transformed into a more open and inclusive model of cultural pluralism. Running contrary to the notions of well-defined epochs and individual era’s, today we find ourselves confronted with a more undifferentiated space that consists of having been given time and of having time taken away, in so many different senses of the word. This is because of the emergence of new ways of feeling discrete moments, delimited expanses and even a highly controlled sense of time during this past year. These ways of experiencing a constrianed sense of temporality have gone hand in hand with growing civil unrest, not to mention the kind of worries and diseases that don’t allow the body to rest. And this tension is part of a period in history where politics are still polarized, people are still suffering and where our everyday lives are not entirely adapted to “the new norm”, but nor have they returned to what they were before the 2020s. In other words, we’re at a period that is permeated by many different senses about the times we live in - a time that is increasingly called a period of recovery, but not yet "post-recovery" - and which has an emotion tenor to it that is nothing if not bittersweet.
And whether the media ties the idea of temporal displacement to growing discontent and revolution, or of extended time at home to a rise in divorce rates rather than the previously projected baby boom, or even how this time has become a period of personal reflection about families being separated, lives lost and futures cut short, the one thing we can say for sure is that time has become a rather porous and elastic concept as of late. As a response to these different signs of times, the artists in this exhibition address not just the diaristic but also the power of the heuristic, not just memory but also the material body, and not just with how we represent ourselves today, but also how our lives don’t resemble yesterday either. In this way, we can say that the art practices that are included in Bittersweet: Memoirs of Time Passing, consist of different projects that play with the valences accorded to all of the above in helping us to take the full measure of a life lived in less than ordinary times.
Toward this end, Olivia Phare’s work “Hold Me” describes a journey that is both highly personal and emotionally palpable. Consisting of images of specfic objects, traces, and scans of a world turned upside down, Phare is able to capture the notion of time passing by documenting how our internal struggles are forever married to the everything we are willing to fight for in the world outside. Kendra Sollars’s work is known for speaking to both macro and micro worlds of experience by exploring the connection between our bodies and nature, but with “Dark Days, Bright Skies: Isolation and Quarantine”, we find a deeply personal expression of the experience of time, immobility and healing that has everything to do with circumspect circumstances. In "Presence and Absence" we encounter the paintings of Kim Sweet, which are nothing short of a visual essay on the intricacies and intimacies accorded to deeply introspective acts. Her compositions often court a subtle sense of isolation, a touch of the melancholic and a subtle sense of remove from the everyday. Taken together, all three of these artists show us how the act of habitation itself can take on a haunting, evocative and otherworldly quality, where a picture of our shared humanity is revealed through the image of a single individual, a precious place or an incongruous space that is connected to having lived in “interesting” times.
Learn more about the work of the artists in the show here: