The Space Between, an exhibition of photographs from Vanessa Marsh’s Always Close But Never Touching series, addresses the relationships between phenomena such as experience and memory, reality and imagination, and past and present. For Marsh, the act of taking in and processing the world is always colored by the memories activated by a particular experience. Because the past never fails to rise to the surface and, like water, seep into the reality before us, we are forever hampered from grasping our surrounding environment as it exists in its absolute state.
The image of a water logged Washington State landscape merges with that of disaster footage. A moment in an abandoned junkyard merges with a passage from The Grapes of Wrath. A landscape of California almond groves merges with that of a neglected park. One memory collides with another and creates new associations and feelings. Through the process of making the photographs I am trying to reconcile my place in both the physical landscape and the landscape of my own identity, exploring the circularity of experience, which is always looping back on itself. How reality is always changing and challenging how we understand our surroundings and ourselves.
– Vanessa Marsh
To create her photographs, Marsh first constructs models that, by subtly referencing the landscape of Northern California and her home state of Washington, feel at once familiar and foreign. She then merges the physical incarnations of these imagined territories with reality by using the actual sky as a backdrop against which to photograph her miniatures. The soft, almost dream-like quality of the final photographs elicits both the veil of nostalgia and the way in which the cognitive processes of perception and recollection can be seen as analogous to the mechanical operations of a focusing camera.
Vanessa Marsh was born in 1978 in Seattle, Washington. She earned her BA from Western Washington University in 2001 followed by her MFA in 2004 from California College of the Arts. Marsh has shown her work widely, including at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA. In 2007 she was an artist-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony, the oldest artist’s colony in the United States. Most recently, she was awarded a 2011 fellowship through the Kala Art Institute.