Colette Campbell-Jones Statement

Artist Statement
The mine is profoundly mythical, associated with the primordial Unknown. Stories from Underground is a dark faerie-tale embodying fears of literally being consumed by the earth below (and its parallel, the ancient terror of being consumed by the archetypal carnivorous Forest lurking deep within our collective psyches) and the monstrous economic machinery above. The oral histories reveal the strange light of a people who have emerged from the mines’ conditions of incommensurable darkness, the Abyss. The story-tellers insist they are the last who are able to transmit the values and customs of their culture in which camaraderie, intense emotional bonds, coded humor, organizing labor, “watching and washing” each others backs—together coalesced all the valley villages into a single vibrant organism and became a vehicle of communal identity and transcendence. With the end of “deep shaft” mining in Wales, the story-tellers see their community-based culture rapidly becoming individualistic. Their “stories” foreshadow what lurks below the surface of our post-industrial/post-modern technologies and the world of global capital while also suggesting an alternative to the dominant historical narrative.

Process Statement
Stories from Underground evolved out of considering how imagery provides insight into the psychological mechanisms that filter and shape our sense of reality by omitting and embellishing experience. I construct images to mimic the psyche’s play between the objective/subjective, as in oral stories, through combining photographic documents with highly manipulated material. I make work prints from tens to hundreds of scanned negatives which are then cut up and made into a large scale paper collage. By recombining photographic fragments into new imagery, I am able to draw upon unconscious processes to make fresh connections between levels of meanings, forms, and ideas. Following from the paper collage, images are constructed inside the computer. They are printed to reference charcoal drawings (borrowing from the traditional association drawing has with fiction) while retaining a “purchase of the real” unique to the photograph.

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