In Mementos (2019), every object in a person’s bedroom is compiled into a ‘short-term sculpture’ to create a condensed image of their belongings, void of the spatial context that the objects live in. The arrangement of the things provides an intimate window into someone’s possessions through an abstracted version of their personal space. The participants of Mementos range in age from 20-years-old (“Neef”) to 67-years-old (“Eve”), and across class and cultural circumstances.
The work looks at housing, loss, memories, gentrification, narratives of the past and identity. Mementos investigates how someone defines themselves through the mediation of things, at a specific point in their life. The obvious construction of the images alludes to the constructedness of identity and the potential loss, modification or evolution of self over time. Every portrait holds pieces of the past which only the individual has a deeper knowledge and personal history of. For example, image 9 (“Gerry”) is simultaneously a portrait of him, his sense of loss through his deceased wife’s objects and his hopes for the future as possessions begin to accumulate from his new girlfriend.
While the physical environment that the person lives in is concealed, the shape of the object sculpture is quietly dictated by the walls and arrangement of the room. The portraits mimic the aesthetic of a garage sale or the stacked objects of a moving day. These images hint at the transience of objects and the ways in which people and things move (at will or not) in and out of spaces.
Libby Oliver was born on the ancestral land of the Paskestikweya (Baltimore, Maryland). She lives on unceded Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC), where she works on a community-based art practice. Her art has exhibited nationally and internationally, including a solo exhibition at the Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec. Her photo series, Soft Shells, has been featured in print and online media outlets around the world including the CBC, The Guardian, the Missouri Review, Der Spiegel and Il Post. Libby is currently completing an intergenerational artist residency at a seniors care home she initiated in collaboration with Regan Shrumm and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.