In conjunction with our virtual exhibition Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home, we are posting responses to artist’s works from interns, students, and others both on and off the College of Charleston campus. Visit the exhibition at displacements.org.
Wrote the poet John Ashbery, “The room I entered was a dream of this room. / Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.” It is this uncanny merging of past and present, this sense of déjà vu, that lends Tanja Softić’s Night Blooms series its unique power. In Softić’s work, present and future grow out of the past: remnants of previous eras are visible everywhere, memory mixes with present experience, and the motion of time is not linear, but a series of superimpositions. Should we dig through the new growth of any present, or any budding future, we will find a past beneath it: a past, for Softić, that contains the memory of a lost homeland.
I have only known one home—Charleston—a city that seems, to me, like a paradigm of Softić’s exploration into how our present often grows out of difficult pasts. With the legacy of slavery at the city’s very foundation, Charleston’s present and future must be taken in the context of their painful past. By exploring her concept of home in Night Blooms, Softić sheds light on my own home, on the responsibility of recognizing and responding to painful histories, on the thin and shifting boundaries between our pasts and presents, between our memories and futures, between the earth and what blooms from it.
-by Isabel Prioleau, Halsey Institute intern
Top: Tanja Softić, Night Blooms: Windows, 2019. Photogravure, aquatint, chine-collé, digital print. 12 x 24″. Image courtesy the artist
Middle: Tanja Softić, Night Blooms: Streets, 2019. Photogravure, aquatint, chine-collé, digital print. 12 x 24″. Image courtesy the artist