OD Photo Prize 2022 | Shortlisted Artist
Justin A. Carney uses autobiographical photography to question how death and grief affect familial connections—the bonds that keep a family together and cause them to separate, and how those bonds shape an individual. He is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, and is currently pursuing his MFA in Photography at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has won the Best in Show Award for the 2020 Emerging Vision, Colorado Photographic Arts Center Biennial Student Show. His work has been exhibited at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China; the International Exchange Exhibition at Keimyung University in South Korea; and the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“and the disappearing has become is an embodiment of the ephemerality of memory and a search for the complex bond that is passed down through family history. After witnessing my grandmother’s death in our house, I realized how temporary life is and how quickly memories fade without my control. I’ve forgotten many aspects about my grandmother, and I fear the day when I will forget my family’s faces, their laugh, and how it felt to be next to them. What will become of me when they pass, and I am the one left behind? I use photography, mono-printing techniques, and erasing with sandpaper to embody the process of forgetting. The gestural act of sanding and painting works to claim this unconscious process of forgetting as a necessary part of life rather than as something harmful. The material’s nature to hide, obscure, and abstract reveals a connection that surpasses death, that lives beyond the photo, beyond the fallacy of memory. Even when the subject is erased in the image, its silhouette remains as a ghost, forever there but illegible. Although faces may not be remembered, the person and their effect on us, their affect for us, that shaped us, is engrained into our very DNA. Form may change but it does not disappear. Through sharing my own struggles to cope with my family’s death, the photos open a door for conversation about death and healing in our community. The ephemerality of our bodies and our memories makes our relationship with our loved ones that much stronger and causes us to appreciate the time we do have. Although bodies and memories dissolve, the ones we love will forever remain etched into the fabric of our being.” – Justin Carney, 2022
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