Laurie Rubin: What Remains
May 23 – June 12, Libreria Galleria il Museo del Louvre, Rome, Italy
Opening: May 23, 2013, 7 pm
Libreria Galleria il Museo del Louvre
Via della Reginella, 26/28
00186 Rome, Italy
Tel. +39 06 68807725
Exhibition curated by Fabbe in association with Surya/Panasuez Cultural Association, Rome, Italy.
The Museo del Louvre gallery in Rome, Italy will present the work of Laurie Rubin, a Chicago-based photographer. Rubin’s photographic expedition, “What Remains,” traces a path through American history by taking the viewer back in time, re-opening the archives of cases that appeared to be shut, resolved, and even damned. Her photography can only be likened to archeology: meticulously realized images of surviving objects that, once recovered and rescued from oblivion, call witness to the 20th
century. Just as Orhan Pamuk contends in his “Modest Manifesto for Museums,” that museums, instead of advancing the narratives of nations, should move to reconstruct the world of individual human beings, so does Rubin tell tales of humanity that are at once profoundly personal and simultaneously collective.
Rubin collects and photographs evidence from crime scenes alongside stories of solitude, fragments that recount the history of the individuals who owned them. The show at the il Museo del Louvre Gallery brings together several pieces from Rubin’s series creating the possibility of new versions of the facts. The chosen objects in her photographic excavation transcend the original purpose they had for their owners, raising them to the status of totem, or artifact, in the form of shattered glass, a camera, a hat, a skull, or a Molotov cocktail. In Rubin’s eyes, these “remains" become visual symbols of an era, a person, an event.
Rubin selects these objects subjectively—when an item appeals to her viscerally, intellectually, or when it invokes a vivid, yet familiar memory. And yet, a persistent thread connects the artifacts, taking us back to the simplicity of what life could have or should have been, such as the image of the trunk that Vivian Maier used to store hundreds of rolls of film that remained undeveloped during her lifetime.
Rubin explains that when she travels, she seeks out small house museums and personal collections because the examination of personal ephemera helps bridge the gap between the intimate and the universal. These objects offer a glimpse into the lives of those who posessed them, detailing moments of inspiration alongside the visible fallout from periods of emotional strife. With Rubin’s skill, each image coaxes the owner whom the object belonged to back to life or manifests the scene of the crime. Personal tragedies are transformed from ruin into vivid, beautiful images.
“What Remains” forms a kind of house museum of Rubin’s own making, wherein each shot is a time capsule reflecting not only the photographer’s own aesthetic, but also giving a second life to the objects themselves. When viewed together the images rendered become an autopsy of the lost, discarded, drowned, and dead, such as the bits of metal fuselage and broken glass believed to belong to Amelia Earhart’s airplane or the skull that actor Del Close donated to the Goodman theater so that whenever Hamlet would be performed, he would continue to be credited in the role of Yorick.
Call it festishism. Call it an obsession with simulcra, but as Shakespeare tells us, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil / Must give us pause: there’s the respect / That makes calamity of so long life.”