“ We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time. “ – T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets
The phenomena of lost and forgotten histories form the basis of my artistic investigation. My work examines how photographs have functioned as evidence and artifact in the construction of history, memory, and identity. Exploiting the photographs unique ability to vacillate between fact and fiction, I explore the constructed nature of the photograph. Within this context I appropriate the conventions of western mythology and museum display to discover how visual traditions and context affect perception and knowledge, and ultimately, functions in the construction of experience. New Eden: The Life and Work of Isabelle Raymond represents part of an ongoing installation project in which I have invented the character of Isabelle Raymond, a 19th century female photographer, and her male model, M. Claudet, in order to reexamine the models of historical, narrative, and gender roles. In assuming Raymond’s identity before and behind the camera I create and document a fictional past. Photographs of recumbent male nudes or strong defiant women reveal a world of reverse stereotypes and transformed myths. Although the photographs present non-traditional interpretations of gender and myth, their faded surfaces persuade the viewer to suspend their disbelief, and consider- for a moment – that these images are authentic. What if such a photographer existed in the last century, but her body of work had been neglected and forgotten because of her gender, race, or subject matter, and consequently had been excluded from the historical record?
Cynthia Greig, a Michigan resident has exhibited her work at SOHO Photo Gallery in NYC, the Wright Museum of Art in Wisconsin, San Francisco Camerawork, the Alternative Museum in NYC, and the Houston Center for Photography. Her work has been reviewed in the New Art Examiner, Ann Arbor News, Spot, and will be featured in the book, The Body Aesthetic, produced by the University of Michigan Press.