The Art Incubator Gallery: July 30 – September 11, 2021
[The buried past] yields those images that, severed from all earlier associations,
reside as treasures in the sober rooms of our later insights.
-Walter Benjamin, Excavation and Memory
Angeline Simon mines and manipulates her familial photographic archives to explore connections in time and geography. Like any archivist, Simon is responsible for acquiring, arranging, describing, and preserving photographic records that have enduring value. However, she also digitally manipulates, cuts, collages, and merges new and found images to give a voice to displaced family histories. Simon moves through the river of archival information finding lineal and cross-cultural connections that resonate with anyone who has looked into an ancestral past for answers.
Exploring the archive brings to the surface long-forgotten images, people, and thoughts as the artist/archivist organizes them into something new and useful. Simon’s work begins with selecting and scanning pictures from over 200 photographs of Chinese-Malaysian and German family members from the 1940’s to the 70’s. Photographs of celebrations, studio portraits, picnics on the beach, and farewells at the airport allow Simon to build new relationships to her familial histories lost in the course of migration. As a second generation Canadian, Simon’s artworks also allude to the immigrant experience in general. They speak of extended distances and time between loved ones and the importance of exchange in maintaining faint bonds across geography.
with warmest regards, always features three series of artworks according to the manipulations applied to scans of the original archival photographs. The main series of collages combines the scanned photos with pictures taken in Malaysia where Simon’s family members still reside. The old and new photos are digitally combined to confuse the identity of the figures and disjoint the illusory space of both images. Another series of collages utilizes Photoshop’s “Content-Aware Fill” function by allowing the algorithm to remove chosen portions of a figure’s face and body, covering them with digital information from their surroundings. The resulting work is an uncanny inversion of the figure that seemingly fades alongside what we remember about them.
The final series of works assembles tangible photographs inside of a shadow box. Reproduced photographs are cut, folded, layered, and pinned to create physical depth and surprises in scale, inviting viewers into the stage-like assemblage. By compressing images, time periods, locations, and identities, with warmest regards, always is a continuing search into migration’s effect on familial and self-knowledge.
The exhibition is curated by Adam Whitford, an art historian, critic, and independent curator.
Angeline Simon is a multidisciplinary artist from Lethbridge, Alberta. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2018 with a BFA in Art Studio. As a second generation Malaysian and German Canadian, Simon explores familial narratives and the dynamics within contrasting cultures. Inspired by photomontage artists Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, John Heartfield, and Hannah Hoch, Simon reflects on her German and Chinese heritage by incorporating similar techniques of collage. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and institutions including Contemporary Calgary, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Casa Lethbridge, Trianon Gallery, and the University of Lethbridge.
This exhibition was made possible with funding assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Top Image: Kuching II (detail), digital c-print, 2020
Courtesy of the Artist