Angeline Simon   A Phantom Speaks

May 15, 2020 - June 21, 2020

[The buried past] yields those images that, severed from all earlier associations, reside as treasures in the sober rooms of our later insights.

-Walter Benjamin, Excavation and Memory

Angeline Simon mines and manipulates her familial photographic archives to explore lateral connections in time and geography. Like any archivist, Simon is responsible for acquiring, arranging, describing, and preserving photographic records that have enduring value. However, she also digitally manipulates, cuts, collages, and merges new and found images to give a voice to the phantoms of displaced family histories. As a second generation Canadian, Simon moves through the river of archival information finding lineal and cross-cultural connections that resonate with anyone who has looked into an ancestral past for answers.

Exploring the archive brings to the surface long-forgotten images, people, and thoughts as the artist/archivist organizes them into something new and useful. Simon’s work begins with selecting and scanning pictures from over 200 photographs of Chinese-Malaysian and German family members from the 1940’s to the 70’s. Then, utilizing Photoshop’s “Content-Aware Fill” function, she allows the program’s algorithm to remove chosen portions of the face and body, covering them with digital information from their surroundings. The result is an uncanny inversion of the figure that seemingly fades alongside what we remember about them.

Each image is surrounded by a white frame of scanner bed, allowing space for the curls, creases, shadows, dust, and damage of the original photograph. The historical and material presence of each photo lends authenticity to their digital edits and interventions, necessitating a second glance. Concerning these changes, Simon states, “It is important that the viewer knows that the photograph is a physical object, it is as if you are experiencing the original but with manipulations that merge timelines and generations”.

Curated by Adam Whitford, Curatorial and Publications Coordinator

Angeline Simon is a multidisciplinary artist from Lethbridge, Alberta. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2018 with a BFA in Art Studio. As a second generation Malaysian and German Canadian, Simon explores familial narratives and the dynamics within contrasting cultures. Inspired by photomontage artists John Heartfield and Hannah Hoch, Simon reflects on her German and Chinese heritage by incorporating similar techniques of collage. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and institutions including Contemporary Calgary, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Casa Lethbridge, Trianon Gallery, and the University of Lethbridge.

SAAG Art Library Project: Beginning in 2020, the SAAG will present exhibitions as in-situ interventions within our art library. The Art Library Project will feature a diverse selection of artworks and mediums from regional contemporary artists. Artists are invited to think of the library as a unique exhibition context by investigating the SAAG’s programming around readership, publications, and its place within Lethbridge’s historic Carnegie library, which opened in 1922. Artists are encouraged to consider the physical architecture of the library and its material holdings, responding to a broader and generative idea of what a library might be, as they change and adapt to new forms of knowledge production.

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