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Photovellas statement

Photovella: a new term I coined to describe this body of work that combines fictional narratives with photographs; appropriated from the word Novella which, according to Wikipedia, were originally “news of town and country life worth repeating for amusement and edification.”



In 2005 I secured grant funding to travel to Europe to create a new body of work. Why Europe? Foremost it was central to the aesthetic of the project I had envisioned but also because, as Alain de Botton, in his book, The Art of Travel, succinctly put another way, “…large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places.”

The framework title for the project was, “The Art, and Love, of Travel” and my concept drew inspiration from traditional travel/souvenir post cards. Travel has long inspired humans, and has been the basis for creative endeavors in various media. Contemporary examples include the travel literature of Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, the lyrics and music of Bruce Cockburn, and Richard Long’s environmental art. The use of post cards as a storytelling device has been popularized by the fictional Griffin & Sabine books, and has also been the subject matter of artists’ cooperatives that have created and exchanged hand-made post cards. Travel awakens one from the lullaby of the familiar (a wonderful phrase borrowed from a colleague’s recent speech) and gives purpose to the post card as a symbol of one’s journey.

Each original photographic image has been printed to size of the post card back that contain indigenous postage and cancellation stamps, along with fictional writing contributing to the narrative. In merging original photographs with the post card construct, my objective was to create unique, one-of-a-kind photographic works that celebrate the inspiration and importance of travel, including spiritual as well as intellectual components, along with new cultural experiences. Bias, wonderment, monuments, propaganda, appreciation, humor, respect, fantasy, the commonplace…all have image potential as the “picture post card” serves the multiple roles of souvenir, collectable, artifact, and art.

As indicated, an important component to the project is the inclusion of supporting fictional text. At its core, the post card image serves as proof to the traveler’s place and being in a moment in time. On the flip side, writing personalizes the experience and serves as testament to the sender’s thoughts at a particular moment in time. Such correspondence facilitates an intimate exchange between sender and addressee. Image and text, taken together, permits the recipient/viewer to become a vicarious participant in the travelogues.

My writings, based on fictional dreams, weave a story, not always linear, but fluid, like life (and dreaming) itself. While writing combined with photography has always been a tricky and risky business, the post card aesthetic demands such a union. However, the beauty of this arrangement is that only one side can be viewed at a time, making image and text independent, yet interconnected, so that each must first be considered on its own merit. Though there is a relationship between my images and personal narratives, my goal is that the writing will give associated depth rather than explain the picture, leaving the viewer to ponder the ambiguity between writer and photographer, and between fantasy and reality. In the course of producing this work I found it difficult to succinctly explain to others exactly what I was doing. In part, to clarify for myself, I coined a new term to describe this body of work that combines fictional narratives with photographs – Photovella -- appropriated from the word novella which, according to, originally meant “news of town and country life worth repeating for amusement and edification.” That seemed to sum things up just fine.

Each (forty-three) of the Photovella post cards, addressed to various recipients, are framed between two pieces of plexiglass fastened together using four clear push lock screws. These are then intended to hang from the ceiling using monofilament line. By removing the work from the static wall and suspending each piece mid-air, the viewer is able to physically interact with the work by freely turning around each frame to view the front (original photographic image) and back (fictional narrative with cancelled stamp).

While this statement is intended to describe the project, I will let each piece speak for itself, and I hope the work speaks to you.