Work by Pauline Shongov

  • Pauline Shongov, B.F.A. 2017
  • Hometown Phoenix, Arizona

In my work, I have consistently been interested in the organic and the inorganic, the human body juxtaposed, merged, and in relationship to machinery, technology, and infrastructure — making the inanimate animate. I am also obsessed with the idea of dislocation, of presence and absence, impressions, and the idea of construction and deconstruction, of building and then reducing a subject to its original components, achieving a state of equilibrium.

I structure my work surrealistically so that the relationship between elements is dreamlike, making poetic associations between the materiality, shape, or function of objects/subjects. In Grid Nest, I was interested in finding a visual correlation between seemingly different objects — cigarette butts, lint, dead flies, hair, eggs, needles, yolk— by transforming one object into another, so that the materiality of the object begins to shift as the viewer's perception of what that object represents changes. I wanted the grid to be both present yet mute almost like a patchwork, or a quilt, so that by recognizing that there is no way to escape the grid (given that it is inherently present in the limiting paper/canvas size and shape), I use the grid against itself, by letting one object leak into another, simultaneously recognizing the boundaries and ignoring them.

This merging of environments into one resonates strongly in an earlier piece, In-between. I was fascinated with infrastructure in its raw state. I found interior and exterior spaces complimenting each other as one space bled into the other. I became more focused overlapping these spaces (the piping in a building with a ship's engine with an underground sewer system) and hence on shifting the viewer's perspective by creating the illusion of a believable space even when it cannot be believable. I think that my daily experience with technology in this digital age informs this idea in my work of dislocated realities. We are constantly able to transport ourselves virtually into different locations without moving away from the one we are currently at. We experience this when skyping or even listening to ipods as we walk down the street. I think my work evokes this sense of being in different spaces at the same time by hinting but not committing to any single one—rather fusing them together and splitting them apart at the same time.

My photographs, which deal with the dream state and the beauty, repulsiveness, and uncanniness associated with fragmented parts, evoke the same sense of play between illusion and reality: how our mind is constantly adjusting and readjusting its perception of objects and the world around us. I was interested in how memories overlap with one another and can prompt other memories or how a dream can exist within a dream or even how a dream is changed and misremembered after it has been dreamt. In the same way that Marcel Proust illustrates in Swann's Way that the olfactory sense is a trigger between memories, here the link between one dream state to the other is the scent of an apple.

Pauline Shongov