The series Traumatic Objects looks at the functions that objects serve for memory. Referencing personal life events defined by their physical and emotional intensity, I highlight moments of encounter and the emotional charge that objects possess once they have become signs and symbols. The work grapples with the essence of objects and how and when they become mentally, emotionally and visually internalized when part of a traumatic event and again when photographed. The series also addresses how one’s perspective is active in coding triggers in his or her memory.
There are the sentimental, nostalgic objects which we hold fast to like old photographs, romantic objects acquired during a relationship or the possessions of a loved one who is deceased. I investigate objects on the other side of the spectrum, traumatic objects; the ones we wish to destroy or abandon in hopes to do the same to the memory, yet whose presence prevails in identical or similar objects we encounter throughout life. The objects are signs in that their presence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. The objects photographed serve as evidence of an event, a mood or a mental or physical state. They are symbols because they are a material object representing something abstract (violence, trauma, childhood, family, memory). All identical or similar objects become symbolic representations and therefore transcend space and time, a theory emphasized by the cross country trip to photograph the work. The site of the thrift store quietly reflects on the previous life and future life of objects and presents them with a dichotomy. A thrift store is a space of abandoned objects. The objects are domestic and were once active and present in everyday life but were deemed useless, without sentimental value, or obsolete, so they have been discarded. It is also a site where one searches for a treasure. It is filled with objects that we know had another life and purpose, one we can imagine and romanticize which gives hope to the the idea of restoration. The powerful dichotomy that exists in that space further relates to the dichotomy of the photograph itself, as object and image, and to the transformation and manifestation of physical objects into symbol.