Collection: Hauntological Inference

New works by Claire Swinford

"The very experience of everyday life is built around a process whose major by-product is a steady stream of ghosts." -- Sadeq Rahimi

Hauntological Inference is a contemporary walkthrough Kodachrome photographs captured between 1959 and 1976 by a working-class Midwestern family. Rather than sincere replicas or Rockwellian tributes, these gouache and oil paintings attempt to capture a situation of temporal and ontological disjunction in which presence, especially socially and culturally, is replaced by static -- whatever non-thing sits between the source images and the meaning they had for the people who made them.

In her compositions, artist Claire Swinford deploys color, distortion and juxtaposition to illustrate that point of non-origin. The old Latin tag "memoria praeteritorum bonorum" is usually translated as "the past is always well remembered," as in the donning of rose-tinted glasses when looking back at times long gone. But the phrase also contains a joke -- rarely is the past well remembered in the sense of accuracy or detail. Memory is slipshod, ever changing, and frequently warped beyond recognition by the people who were there to witness the original event. When we attempt to remember, we engage in an act of storytelling whose narrative gains in believability by the same means as ensures its fundamental disconnect from fact. We say remembrance is "true" because it's based on a concept of the past that we think we share, but remembrance is ultimately false precisely because our brains are incapable of reconstructing events exactly as they were. So what is the "truth" about the past? It's whatever story we can tell ourselves that others are willing to believe.

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