ONCE THERE WAS THERE WASN’T
Svetlana Bailey supposes that objects, places, and events that occur in separate times and spaces can coexist psychologically. This coexistence is reconciled with photographs, which, although normally fixed to particular times, places, and stories, are nevertheless able to travel in boxes, or as mental images on overlapping currents.
Until the age of eight, Bailey’s childhood summers were spent at her grandmother’s house in the Russian countryside. It was an influential period in which she discovered the world on her own, where many things happened for the first time and her earliest memories were formed. Sixteen years ago her grandmother passed away and now the house stands empty. For this body of work, once there was there wasn’t, Bailey returned to her grandmother’s empty house to examine those early impressions. Through this journey of return, she was transported in time, as if opening a time capsule. Here Bailey discovered layers of image fragments captured in stories, old objects, images in albums and magazines. They pointed to the invisible marks, the impressions and mental images that remain, and perhaps for this reason— besides the dust, spider webs and the thicket of birch and cherry trees that had enjungled the outside— the house did not seem abandoned.
Using still life techniques, Bailey constructed installations within and around the house that included the objects that she found on location with photographs that she brought with her of her life after leaving Russia. She followed a similar process with images from her parents home in Germany and her own home in the US, constructing photographs that visualized times and places that are in reality far apart yet exist together psychologically. Similar to the act of carrying pictures in wallets or pendants, on coffee mugs or lock screens, displaying pictures in living rooms or as tattoos— an impulse for continuity, where separate events are rebroadcast into the present through a jumble of images.
Svetlana Bailey was born in St Petersburg in 1984, and after the fall of the Soviet Union emigrated to Germany with her family. Commencing studies at FH Dortmund, Bailey moved to Australia to complete her BFA at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. In 2011, she undertook a residency in Beijing at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, which shifted the focus of her practice to China, and she has, inter alia, been photographing there since. Bailey recently graduated with an MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and lives in New York and Sydney.
Filter Photo is proud to acknowledge the support of the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events in producing this exhibition.
Exhibition Dates: December 1 – December 30, 2017
Opening Reception: December 1 | 6pm – 9pm
Location: Filter Space 1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207