Abby Raffle

Juror's Distinction — Studio Art

 

Abby Raffle, Conocer De Higado, Conocer de Pulmon (To Know by Liver, To Know By Lung), 2020. Video, black and white, sound. 3:54 min. Courtesy of the artist.

 

I am a multidisciplinary artist working in a wide range of media, including bookbinding, photography, film, paper-making, painting, ceramics, and with textile. My work is personal and confessional in nature, discussing subjects such as femininity, society, self, family relationships, prison, and death. Conocer de Higado, Conocer de Pulmon (To Know by Liver, To Know By Lung) (2020) is an out-of-time Super 8 short that includes a piece of poetry discussing fatalism and the place between life and death. The fast-paced dialogue mirrors the frantic imagery of a man discovering a heartbeat beneath his floorboard. There is no phrase in Spanish (or most languages besides English) that directly translates to the phrase “to know by heart.” The translation would be “to know by memory.” In this film, I was considering the fallibility of our memories in conjunction with the certainty of our hearts, mirroring the spoken words.

Ill at Ease (2020) is a series of self-portraits taken during the pandemic. Again, I focused on a place in between life and death. The photos reflect on common motifs of pregnancy as seen in media, as well as imagery surrounding death. Both motifs place the new mother on a pedestal, depict a light or glow around her body, make connections to the natural world, and employ typical poses juxtaposed with dirt, mud, dead plants, and other conventions of post-mortem photography. I view death in these works not as mortality, finality, or the physical body expiring, but as it is defined in tarot: as a loss of what is no longer needed, a metaphorical passing, or a philosophical transformation. There is sorrow in this as well as an illuminating element. As the person we once were perishes, we are reminded of change—a force of which we can be certain when nothing else is sure—and embark on the dawn of a new self.

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