Home is a multifaceted construct. Even in an everyday dialogue, the word offers a few different possibilities. A physical structure in which a person reside is a home; so is a parcel of land owned by the person or her family. Beyond the physical material possessions, a geographical location from which the person has come can also be her home. In any instance, the concept of the home connotes a sense of permanence. In Angela Lee’s recent body of work titled The Only Way Out is Through, however, the solace of perpetuity becomes shrouded in the fog of eerie mystery.
Taken from the artist’s family archive of photographs and letters, the combined images become a serial composite of Lee’s kinsfolk folklore. In the process, the intimate, peculiar chronicle of family ancestry is transformed into a ubiquitous, inexplicable story. The resulting narrative appears as though it belongs to a history museum, rather than an art gallery, for the general public to appreciate. With a separate series of monochromatic photographs, Lee further mystifies the family’s already obscure account. Created from a film, the horizontally expanding scenes, burnt onto the gelatin emulsion of a plastic strip, are somber in tone and muddy in detail. Though beguiling, the images are haunting and sinister. Whatever is lurking among these roots and trees may best be left undiscovered.
Just as Lee’s still images champion the mysterious over clarity, the only moving image in the artist’s body of work dutifully compounds the riddle. The river and surrounding forest culture stand still. The focus is momentarily tuned sharp — a pretense to disperse the clouds of mystery for a big reveal — only to soften and remain so. The passing of time is suggested by an apparent erosion of a view. Many decades must have passed, though even that assumption is put to a test as the time looks to be reversed at one point. All the while, the nature is unchanged. Perhaps some things are indeed permanent. Home is not.
Angela Lee lives and works in Nashville. She holds MFA from Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA) and MA from Austin Peay State University, (Austin, TX). She is a visiting professor and director of graphic design at Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN). Visit the artist’s website at www.angelalee.com.
All images courtesy of artist.