violet poe projects
Benjamin Gardner:
apophatic time
V
The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again. "The truth will not run away from us": in the historical outlook of historicism these words of Gottfried Keller mark the exact point where the historical materialism cuts through historicism. For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably. (The good tidings which the historian of the past brings with throbbing heart may be lost in a void the very moment he opens his mouth.)
—Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History"
(quote selected by Benjamin Gardner to frame his project)
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Benjamin Gardner deconstructs our experience of time, space, and memory using visual language inspired by folk art but informed by contemporary criticism. He draws from such traditions as divination and hex signs of the Pennsylvanian Dutch, yielding a perfectly tempered brew of superstition, nostalgia, melancholy, and occasional whimsy. Weaving together rich histories that feel familiar enough to engage viewers, Gardner executes a singular vision.

Gardner's works are decidedly handmade and imbued with a longing recognition of time's passage. He imparts both a vicarious experience of the past and a glimpse of the inscrutable future. In the utopian world of his recent photographs--populated with personal and collective talismans--the flowers will never fade, the glasses will always be full, the fruit will never spoil.

And that which is unknowable may still be divined.

—Kendra Paitz, Violet Poe Projects
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