ART/SNEAK PEEK : INNOCENT PHOTOS, GUILTY TEXT AT CSUN SHOW.Byline: - Reed Johnson
To the naked eye, the little girl certainly looks happy.
We see her in typical childhood poses, mostly smiling, during play time or bath time or maybe on her birthday. The old, faded Polaroids are arrayed in clear plastic frames, swathed in thin white fabric and layered like the tiers of a wedding cake.
tr.v. jux·ta·posed, jux·ta·pos·ing, jux·ta·pos·es
To place side by side, especially for comparison or contrast. on a low column, a couple of feet away, rests a black spiral logbook with photocopies of pathology reports from the eye tissue of 14 deceased children. Most are from the Los Angeles Police Department "LAPD" and "L.A.P.D." redirect here. For other uses, see LAPD (disambiguation).
This article or section is written like an . and the county coroner's office. Names have been blacked out with heavy marker, leaving only such coolly harrowing remarks as: ``There is extensive hemorrhage in the nerve fiber layer The nerve fiber layer (or layer of nerve fibers or stratum opticum) is formed by the expansion of the fibers of the optic nerve; it is thickest near the porus opticus, gradually diminishing toward the ora serrata. and also in the bipolar cell bipolar cell
A neuron having two processes. layer. ... Child allegedly thrown against wall (five times), head first. ...''
Artist Christina Fernandez, 32, the now-grown-up girl in those innocent snapshots, can't help wondering what she was feeling at the precise moment they were taken.
And pondering Fernandez's just-opened installation, ``The Body Is an Analog'' (1997), at California State University Enrollment
Northridge's Art Dome, we wonder, too. Can we believe the hard, clinical evidence before our eyes? Or, like the camera that took the photos, are our eyes merely an unthinking apparatus that registers fleeting impressions, which may have no basis in reality? Which is to be trusted: the reassuring photos or the grim textual evidence of the reports?
``I think what's most difficult about looking at these photographs, for me, is looking at these pristine, formal portraits of me that show such a sweet, quiet child that has developed into this very vocal, not always sweet woman - the way we're made to conform to these images,'' says the L.A.-born and -bred artist.
Rather than a window into her own childhood, Fernandez says the installation is intended as a metaphorical exploration of different kinds of perception.
So was her childhood indeed as happy as it looks?
``I don't have a very good memory of that time,'' Fernandez replies matter-of-factly. ``It may have been.''
In this age of air-brushed fashion spreads, computerized image-doctoring and Oliver Stone movies, few people are naive enough to swear that seeing is believing Seeing is believing is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that means "only physical or concrete evidence is convincing".
Seeing is Believing may refer to:
Oddly, though, our perceptions may have become less, not more, reliable as amazing new visual technologies burst into existence. Software designers and MTV MTV
in full Music Television
U.S. cable television network, established in 1980 to present videos of musicians and singers performing new rock music. MTV won a wide following among rock-music fans worldwide and greatly affected the popular-music business. directors insist we're becoming a ``visual,'' ``post-literate'' society. But what if our eyes get tricked?
Fernandez explores those and other discrepancies in ``The Body Is an Analog'' and a second installation, ``Bend.'' Both are part of a two-woman CSUN CSUN California State University Northridge show pairing Fernandez with Patssi Valdez, an L.A.-based painter, installation artist and stage- and movie-set designer.
Fernandez began merging text with photos while earning her master of fine arts Noun 1. Master of Fine Arts - a master's degree in fine arts
master's degree - an academic degree higher than a bachelor's degree but lower than a doctor's degree degree from California Institute of the Arts California Institute of the Arts
known as CalArts
U.S. private institution of higher learning in Valencia. Created in 1961 through the merger of two other art institutes, it was the first in the U.S. in Valencia. (She also has a bachelor's degree from UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX .) At the time, she says, she was ``becoming disenchanted dis·en·chant
tr.v. dis·en·chant·ed, dis·en·chant·ing, dis·en·chants
To free from illusion or false belief; undeceive.
[Obsolete French desenchanter, from Old French, about the lack of information in photographs.'' Following a phase in which she photographed herself in multiple, Cindy Sherman-esque guises, she began experimenting by adding text to images.
``With the text, there's always this sort of balance between a more sort of analytical stance and a diary-type writing,'' she says. ``It's sort of a hybrid writing, in terms of storytelling.''
Storytelling serves an important function in ``Bend'' (1998), a gentler, more mystical piece than ``The Body Is an Analog,'' consisting of four enlarged, sepia-toned photos of pre-Columbian Mexican ruins, accompanied by a text panel. Fernandez took the pictures during a recent trip to Mexico, her family's ancestral home. While on that trip, she learned that her Mexican-born grandmother had died, severing a thread that inspired theartist to reconsider her family's past. The photographed ruins, tinged with poetic desolation, became studies in cultural reconstruction and memory retrieval.
``I'm very interested in this thing of filling in space, and that's what my perspective of Mexico very much is,'' Fernandez explains. ``My family was there, but I don't know much about it.''
`` `The Body Is an Analog' and `Bend': Two Works on Sight'' continues through Feb. 28 at the Art Galleries at CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. Admission is free. For hours and information, call (818) 677-2226.