Adie Russell examines correspondence as “communication by exchange.” She investigates the nature of correspondence by defining multiple spaces and allowing them to form exchanges with one another. In her photographs, videos, paintings, and altered postcards, Russell re-frames historical texts and images, putting them in to a dialogue with the enduring present.
The imagery of vintage postcards serves as an origin point for much of the work in Correspondences. These postcards, which are at once object and image, often depict dramatic natural landscapes. Russell manipulates the surface of these images in different ways; painting on them, burning them, “drawing” on them with a flashlight during a photographic exposure. In recreating these images with the addition of her own intervention, Russell brings together two temporal spaces simultaneously: the space recorded in the postcard’s image, and the space inhabited by the artist in the present moment. The exchange between these two types of space exists as a composite of past and present, creating a third, invisible zone in which the unexpected can occur.
Russell’s work asks the viewer to consider the fluidity of history. The images refer to what was once a specific place, a commemorated place, but which now engender a feeling of the eternal; mountains, oceans, fire, vista. These are, in a sense, blank spaces on which we drop the specificity of our own identities, national and personal. In examining the complex relationship between nature and selfhood, Russell’s work inspires a sense of longing for what connects the individual to the world at large.