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GEREN HEURTIN

Skin, witnessing, and the point of contact serve in my practice as both medium and metaphor. Through photographs, video, and drawing, my work engages in the fields of non-verbal communication, notions of memory, and juxtaposing states of being. My camera acts as the witness to these performances. I perform for the camera with a large rectangular frame, or by binding my arm in string and making a video recording of these marks disappearing. This aids as a metaphor for the struggle I face in searching for the margins of memory by playing with the edges of the frame.

What do we owe difficult memories and past experiences? I posit that to make meaning of such memories, we need connection and conversation with one another. This takes a willingness in vulnerability and openness. Though I share personal narratives through these works, a viewer finds themselves in a relatable space in viewing the abstract forms.

Though there is no audio present, these works are a loud cry, a faltering, a stammering for inward understanding and outward connection. How do I know which memory to follow, which one is correct? I place the frame in front of me and pull down on it as if to pull back a layer. I turn it sideways and press my face hard into the clear material, as if to press through something that will break and give me answers.

—GH

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At the center of Geren Heurtin’s work are enduring questions about memory and its metaphorical implications. Using her skin and body directly or implicitly as a medium, in combination with photography, video, and drawing, Heurtin’s artistic practice communicates her inward examination of personal narratives and in turn elicits intimate explorations of memories from viewers.

In Embrace, the artist’s forearm is seen impressed with various marks; over the course of the 78-minute video, the indentations in the skin gradually recover and fade away. Where normally the wounds we suffer and the associated emotional trauma become invisible to others as time passes, Heurtin preserves and brings them to the surface, first as visible marks on the body and then as objects in the documentary video. The minimal amount of movement and the absence of any audio in the work allows us to focus on the non-verbal power of the body. Heurtin thus engages viewers through creating abstracted situations and positions them within a relatable space that evokes individual reflections.

This artistic experiment is taken a step further in Heurtin’s Efface series, which explores various states of being through an alternative photographic process. By printing digital photos backward on the inkjet paper, Heurtin captures versatile, fluid, and malleable patterns that function as metaphors for indistinct memories and conditions of the human psyche. This artistic quest is also conveyed in her work, Exhaust, with its networks of flowing lines infinitely expanding across the seamless white paper. Heurtin’s drawing involves an ongoing gestural movement of marking the surface with awareness and purpose. The drawing’s large scale also facilitates an immersive viewing experience, so that we are encouraged to navigate the constructed spaces at our pace. Which threads are you going to follow? Where do they lead you?

—Xiaoxiao Bao