For her ongoing series, Place and Time, Edie Winograde photographs modern-day reenactments of defining moments in the American West, such as Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and Custer’s Last Stand.
Place and Time is exhibited simultaneously with Walt Kuhn’s An Imaginary History of the West — a series of paintings from the FAC’s permanent collection. Together these exhibitions offer a provocative view into the history of the American West through the eyes of both an early 21st century photographer and an early 20th century painter.
While the reenactments are staged events, they are not choreographed for Winograde’s lens. As she explains, “Though my photographs represent a constructed reality these pageants would take place regardless of my decision to photograph them. In doing so, I am collaborating with chance, portraying events suspended between history and imagination.” The resulting images capture the passion, verity, and artifice of the reenactments.
Large-scale historical reenactments (which the artist refers to as pageants) take place across the United States, with local groups acting out a wide range of historical episodes. Drawing on historical facts, myths, and legends, they contain the specific history of a place filtered through current perceptions. Winograde focuses on pageants depicting incidents in the westward expansion of the U.S.
“My interest in these events — aside from the visual appeal of the extravagant theatrics — is to underscore their quality of mimesis and déjà vu.”
By representing both the present-day reenactments and the historical events themselves, Place and Time blurs the boundaries between then and now. This intersection of past and present connects our modern experience with a collective memory of legendary events – a memory often rooted in Western paintings, novels and B-movies. The exhibition’s exploration of contemporary attempts to recreate historical events also raises underlying questions of truth and fiction.
The reenactments Winograde is most interested in take place on the original site, “underscoring my belief that history itself is part of our experience of landscape.” She emphasizes the grand presence of landscape through large scale and panoramic formats in many of her brilliant color photographs. Expansive landscapes anchor scenes in which the blurred action of pioneers, Indians, soldiers, and horses seems as ephemeral as memory itself.
Recently relocated from New York, Denver-based artist Edie Winograde has received numerous awards for her photography and has work in a variety of publications and collections, including the US Embassy Permanent Collection in Astana, Kazakhstan. Michael Paglia of the Denver magazine, Westword, calls her “a sophisticated addition to the (Denver art) scene.”
Image above: Edie Winograde, Custer’s Last Stand I, 2004, Archival ink-jet print on watercolor paper, edition 1/10 Courtesy of the artist and Robischon Gallery, Denver CO