Unset Waters

“… the standard way of understanding surface has been as an abstract and undifferentiated plane that functions above all to veil or delimit a depth. From the face that mirrors the soul, to the magic writing tablet that reveals subconscious drives, the surface, any surface, all surfaces, have been considered worthy of attention insofar as they are the top layer, the outermost skin, the merely visible envelope of more particularized and specific under or inner depths.”

― Sylvia Lavin

Canadian artist Amy Friend’s radiant art practice shimmers with surface explorations and introspective wanderings. Over more than a decade’s time, she has garnered international praise for creating photographic artworks that explore the relationship between what is visible and non-visible, present and absent.

Many of her ideas begin through an examination of found photographs, with an eye towards intervention and reinterpretation. Through these acts of intense looking, and subsequent hand-manipulated interruptions — methods like poking holes through paper, slashing at prints, soaking photos in sea water until evaporation crystallizes salt onto its surface — Friend creates rich, emotive works that are simultaneously altered, re-authored and made new.

In her best-known series, Dare alle Luce, for example, Friend relies heavily on found photographs as a starting point, pinholing through the realities of both the physical, original prints and the snapshot moments they contain. By cleverly back-projecting light through careful, graceful firefly-punctures in each found image, and then re-photographing the results, she time-travels into other people’s lost memories and illuminates what is most essential & universal. Indeed, Friend has found a way to erase rather than expose when creating these images, inverting the optical logic existing at the very core of the photographic phenomenon. Instead of ‘drawing with light’, Friend intentionally removes fragments, with care, by adding new light (and meaning) to already completed exposures.

The following CAROUSEL portfolio does not offer a linear progression of Amy Friend’s photographs; instead, it intermixes images from three distinct bodies of work, each of which has its own particular set of concerns and technical methodologies …

… the selections we’ve brought together below explore and examine rivers, lakes and oceans from many poetic angles, taking the reader as close as possible to the edges of Friend’s ethereal inner world. In every image, we as viewers are asked to swim towards new light and shores of discovery.

Where the Atlantic meets the Pacific — (from Tiny Tears Fill an Ocean)
There was nothing like that night, remember it? — (from Dare alla Luce)
On the lake at sunset — (from Dare alla Luce)
Oceans as stardust — (from Tiny Tears Fill an Ocean)
Waters rising — (from Multi-Verse)
Atlantic City, 1948 — (from Dare alla Luce)
We are little mysteries — (from Dare alla Luce)
Tiny tears fill an ocean — (from Tiny Tears Fill an Ocean)
Kingston, 1933 — (from Dare alla Luce)
When the sea breaks up little breaths fall — (from Tiny Tears Fill an Ocean)
What is that light? — (from Multi-Verse)
Becoming 0.4% — (from Tiny Tears Fill an Ocean)

Amy Friend (b. Windsor, ON) is an Associate Professor and Chair of Visual Arts at Brock University, Niagara, Canada. She has exhibited internationally with solo shows at Peak Gallery (Toronto), The University of Notre Dame, The University of Tennessee, 555 Gallery (Boston), and Galerie Rivière Faiveley (Paris), among others. Her work is held in the collections of the Onassis Center (Athens, Greece), York University (Toronto, ON), W Hotels (USA), the Edgewater Hotel (Wisconsin) and the Candela Collection, and has been featured in publications including California Sunday Magazine, GUP Magazine (Amsterdam), LUX (Poland), Lens Magazine (China) and The Walrus (Canada). More: amyfriend.ca