Certain days of our lives are engraved into our memories. One of these is our wedding day. Those of us who got married in the Catholic tradition surely remember our symbolic white dress, the moment we walked into the church holding our father’s arm, and the priest’s words, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” - words that still resonate in our memories. That day remains engraved not only in our memory, but also in the official photographs of the newlyweds, which become the silent witnesses of the marriage ceremony. The photograph from our wedding is framed and placed in some prominent place of our living room; in time it is as if the photo takes on a life of its own, migrating from the living room to the bedroom, from the bedroom to an album, and from there to a box in some closet. If marriage ends in divorce, it is likely that half of the picture will end up in a trash can, while the other half the one with the smiling bride all dressed in white will be buried among other photos and memories in some drawer in the basement. Or it might go through a recycling process, eventually becoming part of a contemporary art installation, as with the brides that appear in Mercedes Gertz’ wallpaper murals.
Nymphas Dissolutio is a project in which Gertz in collaboration with artist, Nancy Louise Jones appropriates bridal photographs and deconstructs them, cutting them up and reconstructing them to form abstract landscapes imbued with minimalist aesthetics. It is necessary to approach them in order to recognize what they are made of; these reconstructions attract us and intrigue us at the same time. What once was a sleeve becomes a flower petal; a face is repeated ad-infinitum in a spiral, while a shoe turns into the center of attention.
The piece works as a complex installation, where every part comes together as an integrated whole, a universe where the expectations and the shadow side of marriage coexist. At the same time, every single part (mandalas, hybrids, framed photos), contain this tension between opposites: the hopes for a happy marriage and the possibility of a separation. This project is provocative and insightful, all the while seductive, beautiful yet critical. The artist reflects upon personal experiences, she rises from the particular to the universal, and that is where she touches us in innovative ways; we all relate to the bride archetype, the alchemy of marriage, the union of opposites. Even though everyone wishes to live happily ever after and no one looks forward to a divorce, it lurks throughout this project, there is always a possibility.
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