figments is an online gathering of exchanges with pictures. Artists and writers partake in interactions with family photographs and enigmatic heirlooms, recollections of artworks and images from memory, and meetings with other-than-human elements in a series of spoken word pieces and sound journeys.
The series arose during the extended periods of isolation brought on by the pandemic. Many people were spending time with material and immaterial things from their past. I had frequent conversations about returning to old photographs, finding solace in household objects, and re-entering memories of people and places elsewhere. The encounters seem to be a way to escape from and at times make sense of unresolved histories and current uncertainties. Stirred by the possibilities present in pictures, figments was conceived as an online space to intimately listen and respond to their hauntings.
Each work attempts to make contact with a visual entity of personal significance. To listen to it, speak with it, project fears and desires onto it, narrate it. This process of mediation conjures up strings of thoughts, memories, and associations with other images, sensations, people, and places. The resulting stories are both real and imaginary, unfolding within and beyond the ‘picture frame.’
The series reflects on the affective potential of certain images and objects to strike, possess, and linger with their beholder. They may embody echoes of the past or possible futures, convey emotions and meanings that exceed their material presence, or stand-in for the forgotten, the unknowable, or the unspeakable.
figments opens listeners to subjective, bodily, and erratic reactions that often fall beyond rational interpretation. It offers differing ways of conversing with visual entities, capturing their capacity to be both static and animate, tangible and illusory.
Presented works have been crafted specially for this project. They stem from an initial invitation to contributors to have a conversation with a picture that somehow speaks to them. Taken both literally and as forms of ekphrasis, the assembled discussions, poems, short fiction, and soundscapes activate the figmented powers and possibilities of images.
figments is conceived by Alice-Anne Psaltis with design by Arturo Guzmán Pérez