Monday, August 17, 2015

Legacy

This body of work investigates what how loss of family is processed and what is meant by legacy.

When I was living in New York my mother contracted cancer and so I had to move back to Toledo, Ohio to help take care of her. She died shortly afterwards and because I was her only kin, and she had divorced my father year before, it was up to me to organize her estate. She lived in a huge, two-story Victorian house that she had inherited from my grandparents.

My grandparents emigrated from Greece seventy years ago and were typical participants in the American Dream of the twentieth century. They initially lived in a one-room apartment in downtown Toledo, worked hard to make their business successful which eventually enabled them to buy a house in 1960 where they raised my mother. She lived there until she met my father on a summer trip to Greece, fell in love with him, and stayed in the country. They had me, but divorced a few years later. My mother returned to America and to her parents’ home where I was raised. Consequently, this huge house was full of three generations of personal items.

The day after she died, I learned that my family home that was in my mother’s name and that I was supposed to inherit was going to be seized by the government to pay outstanding medical bills. It is a huge loss for me on two levels: a loss of a loved one and a loss of a legacy.

Going through three generations of personal possessions brings up a multitude of memories and intensifies the grieving process. My mother was a professional bellydancer, taking the art very seriously. She performed both internationally and nationwide, made her costumes by hand, and owned her own dance school where she taught bellydancing. As I pack up her things, I come across her costumes, sewing materials, instructional books, and other items that she used for performing and teaching. I also came across my grandparents’ possessions-old photos, love letters written between them over 80 years ago, spectacles of a grandfather that died before I was born and so that I was never meant to meet.
Going through this remnants of my family-these peoples’ lives-brought up questions in my mind. What is meant by legacy? What do we leave behind after we are gone? How are we remembered?
In addition to these questions, I was also trying to process the loss of family and home. The idea that for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a parent’s house to come home to.  The fact that the American Dream that my grandparents had worked so hard for had to be given back.
This body of work was created from 2008-2012.





















City-Taipei

"City-Taipei" is a series in the body of work "City" that I've been producing for the past ten years. "City" investigates things that are happening in a particular city. I am greatly influenced by whatever city I am living in-its energy, its joys, its sorrows, its oxymorons. Taking in all that a city is inspires and feeds my work.


Taipei is a city that has experienced rapid change for it has gone from a small Asian city to a large international urban center in the past 15 years. In addition to rapidly urbanizing, it has also westernized and become more international, due to its increasing wealth and the number of foreigners moving to the country.  It must be remembered that Taipei was under martial law until 1987 and so was sheltered from much of the outside world before then. Also, due to tense relations it’s had with China and trying to maintain its independence, Taiwan has had a complicated situation as far as stabilizing its identity. It is part of an international world where only a few countries recognize it as an independent country, other nations not recognizing its sovereignty in fear of angering China and jeopardizing their own relations with the Mainland. This work investigates a culture that is trying to maintain its own cultural identity and traditions in the face of rapid urbanization and westernization as well as preserving what it means to be Chinese but not from Mainland China. Keep in mind that this is all from the perspective of an expatriate living in Taiwan, and so it is hoped that perhaps this cultural distance of being a foreigner can lend some objectivity and a different viewpoint to the situation than that of a local artist.

This work was created from 2005-2008.


















City-New York

"City-New York" is a series in the body of work "City" that I've been producing for the past ten years. "City" investigates things that are happening in a particular city. I am greatly influenced by whatever city I am living in-its energy, its joys, its sorrows, its oxymorons. Taking in all that a city is inspires and feeds my work.

New York, with all its glory is, in many ways, the ultimate city when it comes to oxymorons. It’s bizarre that one can be in a subway car smashed up to the person next to them, on a crowded street, in a long line at a store and act like nobody else is around. It confounds me that people walk down the streets with swerving traffic, noise blaring, and neon signs but just stare ahead of them like nothing out of the ordinary is going on. And I guess for New York that is the case. And perhaps in order to survive in such a crowded, overstimulated city, one needs to be this way.

This work was created from 2008-2009.










City-Nashville


"City-Nashville" is the latest series in the body of work "City"  that investigates issues that are happening in the city I am living in at a particular time. "City-Nashville" investigates a city that is experiencing fast growth while trying to maintain its character in the face of this transition. It's been interesting for a recent transplant like me to move to a city that is reinventing itself. The first year or so in a new location is supposed to be spent getting familiar with new surroundings, finding a foothold. It's been tough for me to do this because I constantly hear how much Nashville is growing and, for better or for worse, how different it was from just a few years ago. I have nothing to refer this change to, so trying to get settled in has been an interesting process.

Inspired by this process of trying to assimilate in a city that is in flux, I walk the streets and photograph this transition; the tearing down of houses, the construction of buildings, lines of cranes and architecture meeting in angles in the sky. I then layer these images with old photographs of Nashville that I’ve found in the Tennessee State Library Archives. I’m attempting to show that even though all this growth and transition is happening, the past still lingers on in the city. Perhaps it’s from the desire of some who want Nashville to stay the same.

"City-Nashville" is a work in progress and is expected to evolve as I continue to reside in Nashville.

For more information please visit www.tinagionis.com/imaging.