Art History II Gallery Writeup: (In) Voluntary Memories by Alysia Kaplan

The Bret Llewellyn gallery was hosting an artist by the name of Alysia Kaplan on February 23, 2017. This gallery showed Kaplan’s more recent series entitled (In) Voluntary Memories. She uses a series of photographs, print, and video to create the many compelling works present in the gallery. Kaplan uses a mixture of different video reels and images that may or may not be directly connected to one another. Yet, through this she is able to convey a deeper meaning within others by allowing for them to create their own story through her work. In fact, Kaplan states that her work is used to “examine the constructs of space, the self, memory and the gaze”( Her work is meant to portray the inner mind of a being without directly feeding the viewer a presumed notion as to what the piece is about. Rather, she allows for the viewer to think for themselves by using images that can connect with the viewer.

Her video has no sound, just various scenes from old movies, home videos, or even recordings of different events or scenarios. The formation and the medium of many of her pieces conveys the sense of familiarity; this notion of nostalgia that truly allows the viewer to create their own experiences from it. Her piece that contains a picture frame and an image containing the word “Picture” on it, is a prime example of this. This is very postmodernist of Kaplan, in the sense that she has not made something that she herself knows the meaning to. The meaning to this piece is dependent on the person that is viewing it, by allowing for the viewer to fill that word with whatever image or memory they might find themselves recalling. Many artists present their work with some message already evident to them as the creator. As a viewer, often times, we are obligated and allowed to take this pre-determined meaning and add onto it with our own notions and experiences. However, Alysia Kaplan does the antithesis of this and gives the viewer only the frame and the word. It is then up to the viewer to not only create the image, but to create a meaning, if need be.

While giving the viewer their own interpretation, Kaplan gives her own by informing viewers that these pieces represent her own relationship with her mother. This is quite evident in her work especially in the video where it seems as though we are watching a series of home videos of Kaplan’s life through her mother. This is seen with the young girl swimming, walking through the snow and falling. (In) Voluntary Memories in itself is representational of these moments that Kaplan’s mind has created for her. The name (In) Voluntary or even seen as “involuntary” plays with the notion that these are memories her mind has made up on there own. In a sense our memories are exactly that, moments in our life that are somehow saved into our brain and then later reconciled. This very concept is something that Kaplan is playing with; she is playing with not only her own memories, but the memories of the viewer as well. Her work is very reflective of postmodernist art , in which there is not only one view when it comes to art and the artists viewpoint is not absolute.

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