kristen s. wilkins

Rapt in the Nameless Reverie

30"x30"; lightjet prints from scanned negatives; 2007-09

I am interested in the origins of words; the history of a word often better describes my intentions than its modern connotations. The word ‘nostalgia’ was a medical term for a longing for home that is so great as to cause sickness or death. Nostalgia doesn’t only refer to a longing for a certain place, but a certain time; it is a sickness we can never recover from except within our dreams. Reverie is about ‘daydreaming,’ but also comes from the word, revere, as in ‘to worship’. Rapt means ‘engrossed in,’ but also ‘taken in or up.’ We can become consumed with our memories, wrapped up in them, taken away by them. These are the feelings I am trying to capture with my camera.

These photographs hone in on domestic details and textures to facilitate my exploration of nostalgia and absence. Objects, light and shadow, and empty space are referents to absent people and past memories. By using a very narrow depth of field, the images invite the observer to focus on a single viewing plane, while the rest of the visual filed is denied them by the soft focus. Just as when one is daydreaming, the spaces are not the real subjects of the images, so much as the memories that reveal themselves in the moments of staring off in the space.

In the series “Rapt in the Nameless Reverie,” I duplicate the scenes that cause me to feel enraptured, nostalgic, and reverie. The images float between the categories of ‘documentary’ and ‘still-life’, yet function as neither. The non-literal and ambiguous subject matter allows the viewer to step into my eyes, encouraging the focus/blurry affect of vision that occurs when one is day dreaming or so intensely looking at a single object as to lose oneself completely. The fractured portrayals prevent a cohesive interpretation of the images; the viewer is left alone to imagine the implications.

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