essay, v.

Dawn Roe & Leigh-Ann Pahapill

August 1st - September 15th

RAMP Gallery Hours Mon- Fri 12p - 5p/Sat 1p - 5p

essay, v. | Exhibition Statement

During a 2017 residency at Nau Côclea Centre for Contemporary Creation in Catalonia, Spain, artists Leigh-Ann Pahapill and Dawn Roe made daily trips to the border city of Portbou and the surrounding coastal trails of the Pyrenees Mountains. The material collected during their excursions resulted in the production of two distinct sets of works that have been formed into a joint installation for Revolve Studios at RAMP Gallery. Having collaborated through conversation and project contributions for almost a decade, this exhibition brings together artworks by Pahapill and Roe for the first time.

The exhibition combines video and photo-based elements including digitized cyanotype and centers around Pahapill and Roe's responses to the historical and contemporary narratives that pervade this region. The artists explored the ways that the coastal border between France and Spain is memorialized variously as a critical line of retreat, exile, and passage during the Spanish Civil War and WWII(1) and continues to materialize tensions over space and identity today. 

Appropriating the structure of the essay film – situated between reportage and fabrication – the installation of works positions Pahapill and Roe's audio-visual recordings as remnants of a collective examination of the politics of place, subjectivity, and representation.

This model of translation, which galvanizes the observer into the role of a full-fledged participant in the construction of meaning, supplies the audio-visual essay with metaphors of relationality and participation in a medium that in its mass manifestations has been traditionally associated with passivity.

The genre manifests itself in moments of crisis – political and representational. The function of the essay is not therapy or healing the wounds produced by the upheavals of the day, but crisis diagnosis enabling and encouraging future social and cultural transformation.(2)

1. The Spanish city of Portbou is also the well-documented site of Walter Benjamin’s suicide in 1940.

2. Alter, Nora M. “Translating the Essay into Film and Installation.” Journal of Visual Culture. Volume 6(1): 44-57.