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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Sarah Nesbitt

SPE Member since 2006
Member Chapter: Midwest

Making Sense of What We Have

We live in a time in this society where history is being reconstructed and opinions are clearly misinterpreted as evidence-based facts. What constitutes as accurate, reliable information is important for us to know and be reminded of at this time.

I research forgeries, stolen artwork, plagiarism, memory, censorship, misattribution, the writing and re-writing of histories, evaluating the gap between accuracy and fiction. A photograph is often perceived to be an objective arbiter of truth, but realistically it is just as open to manipulation as the process of recording history. Photography can alter our entire perception of reality via editing, interpretation, and desensitization, as well as by constructing a hyper-reality and depicting pseudo-events. My goal is to create broad awareness of our shortcomings in recording and portraying history so people understand it not as static stories frozen and dead in the past, but as a medium of active engagement – a living, breathing investigation into what came before us, constantly striving to reach the truth.

Creatively, I work with a variety of printed and digital media ranging from video, installation, sculpture, and augmented reality to the photographic wet plate collodion process of the 1850s. Frequently, I disrupt the surfaces of printed media by physical alterations through sewing, dissecting, writing, and pinning. My intention is to both practice and study these processes and reveal them as accessible forms of media. We've been taught that a printed photograph is already "complete" and should be treated as a precious object. It absolutely is an object – but it's not precious; rather it's vulnerable to disruptions put forth by outside forces.


Our Influences

Losing the Collection

The Survival of Photography (Pennsylvania State University Slides)

Working Harder to Reclaim That Context

Our History of the Telephone

Our Desire for Knowledge

How to Salvage a School (Marygrove College)

Tigers Leap (Jetztzeit)

Time to Heal

Detail of The Survival of Art (Linda Weintraub's Slides)

The Survival of Art (Linda Weintraub's Slides)

Relying on Memory

On the Other Side

Passport to Prehistory

No Longer Needed

Behind Curtain Number One

Faire and Balanced

Making Sense of What We Have

The Press

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