A Palpable Transfer

A Palpable Transfer positions memory as an event that is first experienced, and eventually transferable. Memory is often explored in contexts of nostalgia, validity, deterioration. The selected photographs work with memory in relation to palpability, which is the access point of physical sensation; rather than touch (which inevitably becomes the reach for form).


Sheng Qi, Memories (Mother), 2000, (9.2004)

Sheng Qi’s work encapsulates the first source of form versus sensation, of touch versus palpability—the mother-infant relationship. This work also links human loss with the phantom limb phenomenon: the sensation of presence despite physical absence.


Susan Wides, Looking Glass, 1987 (1.2000)

Looking Glass, 1987 by Susan Wides can be read as a photograph of remembered magic. It is a work about the imagination and its capacity to transfer information between two emotional worlds: the inner world of the imagination and the external arena of physical manifestation, the palpable.


Unidentified artist from the Artists’ Poster Committee of Art Workers Coalition, Untitled, ca. 1968-70 (784.2002)

Masses are comprised of individuals and stability rests on social structure. The Artists’ Poster Committee of Art Workers Coalition’s poster represents the idea of a bloodline as both a structure of order and mass, of singularity and the group. Visually, the mass rests on top of a divided structure, in flattened space. The structural elements (red lines) emphasize division, while the red mass is unified.


Andres Serrano, Blood and Semen V, 1990 (2.1998.g)

Andres Serrano’s Blood and Semen V is equal parts abstract and literal. Human blood is shown as a large, flowing, frame-filling mass. It can be seen as a portrait of the primary substance for human transference, the most taboo to feel.


Susan Meiselas, “Mano Blanca,” signature of the death squads left on the door of a slain peasant organizer, Arcatao, Chalatenango Province, 1980 (366.2005)

Susan Meiselas took the above photograph in El Salvador. Politically a critique of outsider involvement in a domestic civil war, “Mano Blanca” is a photograph about the ultimate cost of the first-person voice: death. The touch of death upon one’s door keeps the individual body divided from the social/public body of the street, barring transference (of ideas, of mobility).

A Palpable Transfer is about primary human encounters: with motherhood, with the imagination, with civic strife and personal vulnerability. Sensation is recorded in direct relation to how it is remembered. What information is transferred in the process?

Patricia Silva ICP-Bard, 2013

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