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Emily Geen

Makeshift Comforts

June 6 - July 6, 2019


Empty Gallery is pleased to present 'Makeshift Comforts', a solo exhibition by Emily Geen.


This exhibition is comprised of eight distinct pieces from an ongoing series of work that combines photographs harvested from a family archive with commercial and industrial materials as well as found objects. The result is a kind of photo-sculpture hybrid with a strong physical presence. In this body of work, Emily expands our understanding of photography and its relationship to the corporeal world with simple, elegant pairings that evoke an almost constructivist sense of materiality. Emily's choice of materials and her compositional logic, while somewhat opaque to the viewer, serve to supplement and enhance the memories associated with each photo. Her choice of often ill-taken photos that bear the hallmarks of a true amateur (blurry subjects, poor framing, incorrect exposure, etc.) challenges the notion of the "professional" art-photographer. While there is technique evident in the execution of the work, it does not originate in the photograph itself. Instead, the work resists our immediate impulse to look through the image and asks us to consider the photograph as an object among many others. 

‘Makeshift Comforts’ runs from June 6 to July 6, 2019. Visit the gallery during regular hours or by appointment.

Emily Geen works between photography, sculpture, installation, and video and is based in Victoria, BC. Originally from Lake Country, BC, Emily received her BFA at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (2012), followed by her MFA at the University of Victoria (2015). Her work has recently been exhibited in group exhibitions at Support (London, ON), Gallery 44 (Toronto), and Gallery 295 (Vancouver). She was recently nominated for two awards for emerging lens-based artists: the Lind Prize (shortlisted; Polygon Gallery, 2016) and the New Generation Photography Award (longlisted; National Gallery of Canada, 2018). She has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre (2016) and at MOMENTUM Worldwide in Berlin (2017). Emily also teaches photography sessionally at the University of Victoria.


‘Makeshift Comforts’ presents a selection of works which are part of an ongoing series of photo-based sculptures that I collectively call Snapshots. I routinely seek out photographs for these works by sifting through my family’s shoeboxes of 4x6” prints from the 1980’s-2000’s. The boxes are usually found tucked away in closets or garages, and they contain the images that did not make it into the family albums–they are too blurry, too awkwardly framed, or perhaps they are just redundant. I often end up selecting images that were taken with disposable cameras by my younger self.


Some of the snapshots go through a process of scanning or re-photographing, often alongside other objects, causing them to flatten and merge with the material aspects of the sculpture. Others are simply paired with objects, sustaining their autonomous physical relationships. Regardless of the method of making, these assemblages are associative improvisations that draw on personal nostalgia. However, I also seek to situate them within collective memory and consciousness through my use of objects and materials. The functional histories of the objects often have very little in common with the contents of the photographs, but they become important metaphorical devices once integrated photographically or sculpturally.


Across my art practice, I am interested in the limitations of photography to do justice to experience, and the way that the virtual and the actual, as well as the indexical and the real, intersect. In ‘Makeshift Comforts,’ materiality becomes a way of dissolving these limitations and binaries.

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