My path has crossed with Jessica’s on many photo review occasions, from Houston to Portland, and her work has always stood out. She was asked by the Lishui Festival to show her lovely work in China, and I am happy to highlight her work here. Her series, Panopticon, is well crafted, luscious, silver prints of open spaces.
bears witness for the
I approached this series as I have all others: with the intention to investigate, or call attention to, how
identity shifts and changes when catalyzed by experience, and more dramatically, trauma. For this
project, I again was drawn to the landscape as muse, but uncharacteristically chose one loaded with
meaning, burdened with a history so cumbersome that I initially was afraid to pursue it.
The title of this series, Panopticon, refers to an 18th century circular prison model that allows for
secret surveillance of all prisoner activity through natural illumination. The subject matter is the
grounds of Nazi concentration camps. Far from being documentary in nature, these photographs are
decontextualized excerpts through which I sought to dispose of most recognizable clues to the
specific places, and focus on the surrounding, and surviving, environments in order to recast them as
sites for new meaning. The resulting images, mutated through a technical process that relies on decay
as an operative force, do suggest trauma, but don’t require a reaction that encompasses a response to
iconic horror. Instead, I make this work in the hope of inspiring a dialogue between the viewer and
imagery that fuses indeterminate disturbance with transcendent beauty.