Making Sense of What We Have

My creative philosophy centers on the importance of art and photography in contextualizing and interpreting both our past and our present. Work that’s relevant now more than ever as our media, government, and society struggle to establish a concrete line between fact and opinion, history and myth, evidence and conspiracy theory.

I research forgeries, stolen artwork, plagiarism, memory, censorship, the writing and re-writing of histories, evaluating the gap between accuracy and fiction. A photograph is often perceived to be an objective arbiter of truth, but realistically it is just as open to manipulation as the process of recording history. Photography can alter our entire perception of reality via editing, interpretation, and desensitization, as well as by constructing a hyper-reality and depicting pseudo-events. My goal is to create broad awareness of our shortcomings in recording and portraying history so people understand it not as static stories frozen and dead in the past, but as a medium of active engagement – a living, breathing investigation into what came before us, constantly striving to reach the truth.

Creatively, I work with a variety of printed and digital media ranging from video, installation, sculpture, and augmented reality to the photographic wet plate collodion process of the 1850s. Frequently, I disrupt the surfaces of printed media by physical alterations through sewing, dissecting, writing, and pinning. My intention is to both practice and study these processes and reveal them as accessible forms of media. We’ve been taught that a printed photograph is already “complete” and should be treated as a precious object. It absolutely is an object – but it’s not precious; rather it’s vulnerable to disruptions put forth by outside forces.

Sarah Nesbitt