So often in our daily lives, our attention is fixed on the future—planning for Tomorrow. And as artists, too, we rush to make new work, to take new pictures, to create, always, something new. But what of the past? Past lives? Past work? Past pictures?
Coming across these mounted albumen prints of portraits from the late 1800's—called Cabinet Cards and wildly popular in their time—I started asking myself these questions. We think of the future as unknown and the past as known—as history in a heavy book. But mostly the past, and the people who lived before us, are as obscure and unknowable to us as the future is—we need a crystal ball to see back in time, too.
The idea of building a series using these original photographs grew, and divination seemed an appropriate theme both because spiritualism was popular in the 1800's, and because the series was largely about re-incarnating the people in these photographs by considering them again; making the past once again present, and giving us a vicarious way to ponder the passage of our own lives.
- Rachel Phillips