Jasmine Dreame Wagner

Artist Statement

My work is an exploration of the post-industrial landscape and the natural life that persists in the face of environmental degradation and decay.

Human life is part of natural life. We, too, persist and grow. The landscapes I examine are resonant with the sprawls of both untouched earth and human-made earthworks.

Using a variety of mediums, I investigate the hidden narratives of these places. I am particularly interested in landmarks that linger in the margins of everyday life: abandoned industrial areas, vacant lots, decommissioned military structures, exurban space that has fallen into disuse. I am interested in the immediacy of their loneliness, their narrative's dependence on memory, and in how the media formats we use to capture and convey their curves fall into obsolescence along with them.

Through the use and manipulation of dated techniques (pointillist illustration, letterpress printmaking) and obsolete and disposable media (Polaroid cameras, Xerox photocopies,) I explore how human-built structures (physical, intangible, and theoretical) change and are changed by the growth of the natural and virtual worlds. The images I create, along with the texts and music I compose, seek to reveal the influence our past exerts upon on our present.

Though I find the constraints and contents of the traditional landscape to be beautiful, I am not interested in beauty. Beauty isn't an intended end result, and I don't need to prove that beauty exists in hidden places. I am not interested in the consonance of composition or what the gaze presumes to possess. Beauty is addictive. Beauty inhibits. Beauty is toxic. If my works attain the status of beauty, the status is, like an environmental toxin, a byproduct of process.

The places I work from are often sites of social, economic, and ecological trauma. Like scars or aphasias, their inner sanctuaries and barbed-wire borders, firewalls, and encrypted transmissions speak to the psychological state of the society that created them.

Formats I employ in my work include: photo series, pen and ink drawing, collage, ritual textual performance, poems and short prose as individual pieces or bound as art books or zines, and music and sound composition.

Formats that, in turn, cross-reference and grind against one another like the gears of motors.



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Photography

Using expired Polaroid film and expired 35 mm disposable cameras, my photographs serve as a meditation on landscape, obsolescence, process, and preservation.

Drawing

Working from the distorted perspectives of point-and-shoot digital photography and Photoshopped clippings of mail-order scientific specimen catalogues and women's fashion magazines, my pen and ink drawings emulate and replicate, by hand, the pixelated filigree of the magnified montage.

Poems

My poems stem from experimentation with formal verse. Like a landscape in a viewfinder, a poem is bound by formal elements of composition. What happens to the landscape when the shutter clicks in the frame? The "click" is the moment I seek.

While my text's inquiry is rooted in theory and contemporary human geography, its persistent lyric voice seeks to dismantle the rigid linguistic practices of theorists and to recontextualize the verbal and visual tropes of commercial culture.

I am interested in exploring the fine line between soil and soiled.

I am interested in precisely what these words mean: land, trust. How they fuse to become Land Trust.

Music

My music loiters at the crossroads where the technological and the animal meet to channel lightning with their thundersticks.


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Questions

Do you turn on your television for company? Do you ever feel the urge to take a photograph?

How do we understand the human urge to make a permanent mark in the attention-deficit-addled culture in which we live?

How are we psychologically influenced by the disposable formats of the technology used to preserve our memories?

What do neglected spaces tell us about the culture that creates them?

How do the rules and regulations of nature sanctuaries and wildlife refuges narrate the romance between industrial and post-industrial life?

Do we choose these modes of living? Can we change?


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My Publications/Bibliography can be found here.





Paldiski, Estonia; photo series; Copyright Jasmine Dreame Wagner 2010
Pakri Peninsula (1, 2, and 3.) Site of the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski, Estonia. Series of 5 Polaroid photographs. (2010)
Trinity; pen and ink; Copyright Jasmine Dreame Wagner 2009
"Trinity." Pen and ink. 8.5" X 10" (2009)
Listening for Earthquakes
Listening for Earthquakes, poems, Caketrain Journal and Press (2012.) Cover image by Dana Maiden.