Adrienne Defendi
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Dwelling in Possibility



     So my mind sinks in this immensity:
     And foundering is sweet in such a sea

                                            G. Leopardi, L'infinito






These photographs document the home where my parents resided for
over forty years and explore their lives within.  Through this project I have come
to understand how my parents and I are letting go of each other -- relinquishing
each other to the natural cycle of life. 

To relinquish them is to remember them anew.



I came to this photographic project while circling a high desert bush.
Walking its circumference, I marveled at its inticate architecture of twigs,
its graceful dance, its very-changing existence as the light and the landscape shifted.  

With a compass in pocket, I photograph to observe the subtle changes in orientation
and perspective, texture and shadow, emotion and gesture.  Some directional elements
pull me more than others, others disorient; some are obvious, others
barely perceptible.  Each singular image is portrait-like and when gathered together
in these polyptychs, the images both anchor and disorient the viewer, inviting us to
question our bearings.



A Place Called America

In this color series, I document ordinary moments that seem
to capture something about a mythical place called America – a place
that is both familiar and foreign, ironic and nostalgic.  Whereas I might 
have shot this series with many other cameras, the Holga camera 
(with a plastic lens, the choice of two apertures and four focusing distances) 
allows me a playful and refreshing freedom in its very lack of technology.  
I love shooting with it, and often marvel at the seemingly serendipitous 
way composition, color, and chance come together.



The art term pentimento describes the underlying changes in composition
and ideas in the process of painting, the faint renderings of an idea evolving, 
covered over with the new.  I’ve always been intrigued by this painterly phenomenon,
by the layering process of time and thought hidden below waiting to be revealed.


In this on-going series at water’s edge, I create imagery layered with movement
and memory in a palette of subtle grey hues, aiming to capture what resonates in me
as elemental and mythic.  Bodies of water, dark and vast and churning, become my canvas. 
Distant objects emerge, oneiric and transformed.


Pentimento translates from the Italian as repentance as well as change in its most
secular connotation.  And it is with this possibility of transformation, at water’s
edge, where I might find stillness in agitation, clarity in faint renderings, renewal
in self.


In this series of photographs, I explore the relationship between 
decaying beauty and monumentality.  Having spent much time 
in Italy, I found myself drawn to these statuary works as they 
seemed overlooked, forgotten, and melancholic.  I imagined their 
importance when they were first created.  I imagined what history 
unfolded around them.  I imagined what they might have witnessed.
For me, these photographs symbolize forgotten narratives that beg
to be retold and remembered.

In My Backyard

Spending considerable time parenting in and close to home, I photograph what 
unfolds around me: the often overlooked moments of domestic life–backyard play, 
what remains to be cleaned up and put away at the end of the day, the space around me
without children in tow.  I find that this series of photographs seems to capture a kind
of stillness and nostalgia – even melancholy – in the inevitable passing moments
of both childhood and parenthood.
Is this what I dreamed or is this how it was?  
Is this what I hoped to remember or wished to forget?

Below the Dumbarton Bridge

This series of Polaroid emulsion lifts explores the landscape below 
the Dumbarton bridge, which crosses the San Francisco Bay and 
salt beds near the shores.  It is a world of merging elements: land and 
water, salt and sand, solitude and the busy hum of the traffic above.

Polaroid emulsion lift images are one of a kind; due to the process, each 
image is unique.  The process of making these images begins with a slide
from which a Polaroid photograph is made.  The emulsion is separated from
the Polaroid image and then placed on 100% rag water-color paper, which 
gives it an undulating, membrane-like quality.









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