"Much of my work concerns itself with legacies: what is given, what is withheld, what is taken." (Michael Huey)
Betsy and I killed the bear
“Betsy and I Killed the Bear” is a phrase whose meaning has been lost. Like many of the things I work with, it is an evocative archaeological find whose significance is not immediately discernable.
I work with archival materials – photos, papers, objects – to make them visible, through minimal interventions, to others. I am attracted by flaws and motivated by the idea of making something that is damaged complete again, in a new way. Much of my work concerns itself with legacies: what is given, what is withheld, what is taken. I like to look for traces of other people's lives in cast-away or unappreciated things, and I consider my work a kind of collaboration with the past. In “Betsy and I Killed the Bear” I have concentrated almost entirely on found images from my own family, as taken from my grandfather's and great-grandfather's 35 mm Kodachrome transparencies from the 1940s and 1950s and newly-presented through an analog process.
I know these people in similar situations; I know these places. My knowledge of these events, however, is both weirdly specific and surprisingly imprecise; now I, myself, have become so inextricably connected to the images that they are somehow like bizarre, impossible representations of my own life and memories. They seem deeply familiar, but also slightly foggy, like things I'd nearly forgotten. So my objectives here are twofold: to revel in this fictitious “memory” (to find my presence in it, as it were), and also to expand the fiction to accommodate unrelated viewers in an indefinite narrative. I didn't “take” the slides originally, but I did “take” them later – both physical acts that involve being in a certain place at a certain moment and being prepared to see and connect to something.
Michael Huey, January 2007
Opening: 13 feb. 19.00
Dorotheergasse, 12 Wien
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