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DIANE MEYER. Photography transforms history into objects of nostalgia

Author: Luisa Bernal

Section: LAB

Date: 03.2013

 

When Diane Meyer (1976, United States) is not teaching photography to her students at Loyola Marymount University, she likes to visit museums and galleries. Then she returns to her studio and sets about embroidering photographs, trying to keep her cat away from reams of thread. Diane loves the fact that her projects involve travelling and exploring new cities…

My work has always been highly influenced by space and it’s a response to the visual culture and history that surrounds me. I create pieces to explore the physical, social and psychological qualities that go to make up each place.

Just as each space is different, my work takes shape in ways that are diametrically opposed, varying in style and themes. In general I am interested in American myths, humour, clichés and cinematographic traditions that periodically re-emerge in unexpected ways. I often blend popular culture with history, seeking to blur the differences between reality and fiction.

I like to compare nineteenth century ideas with representations of twentieth century constructions and technologies.

Diane recounts examples of earlier projects prior to the present one involving embroidered photographs, which now occupies her time and arouses our anticipation:
When I moved from New York to California I created large-scale installations dealing with the role of mythology in representations of the American West. I also finished a project in which I created installations in the sleeping car of a train that criss-crossed the country and specific projects for two art spaces in New York.

 

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

 

When I moved to Los Angeles I explored celebrity culture by photographing myself imitating celebrities. I was also interested in car culture and photographed and interviewed 100 people who lived without a car in the city (something that is pretty unusual there).

 

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

 

The embroidered Berlin photographs are the outcome of my journeys across the city during an artistic residence there. I took images of the centre and the suburbs, tracing the line of the Berlin Wall. I was interested in photographing places where there is no visible remnant of the wall but there are still subtle reminders of its existence. These clues take the form of architectural incongruities such as when new buildings go up on undeveloped land, changes in street lighting or more recent vegetation. As well as the physical aspects reflecting the earlier division of the city, I’m interested in the psychological weight of these places and the ways in which the weight of history endures in the present.

 

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

 

I am interested in failures in photography, in preserving memories and personal histories. I reflect on how photographs transform history into objects of nostalgia that obscure objective ways of understanding the past.

Diane is planning to have a series of 40 embroidered photographs of Berlin for 2014 to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the wall. She needs so much time to complete the project that she is able to listen to a wide variety of music, podcasts and films while she works.

Normally I do all the background work long before starting a new project. It could be a case of technical research -such as experimenting with different types of paper for the embroidered sections- or more conventional, to do with the themes and ideas I’m working with. Then I take the photos and edit them slowly. I like to work on different projects simultaneously over the course of the day.

You have another project coming up that dovetails with this one:
In my next project I’m going to customise vending machines selling souvenirs of parts of Los Angeles that have been swept away by progress and demolition programmes.

As someone who haunts museums and galleries, Diane Meyer admits that the artists who influence her are in constant flux: Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Mike Kelley, Tseng Kwong Chi, Tom Sachs, Ed Ruscha, Diane Arbus, Edward Hopper, Paul Kos, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Taryn Simon feature among their number.

No doubt Diane Meyer is starting to appear on many people’s lists of favourites, too.

 

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

Diane Meyer l DRESSLAB

 

+ info_ Diane Meyer

Text_ Luisa Bernal

 

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