LATENT is a state of being hidden, invisible, or present but not manifest or exhibited.
Artist Lynda Gammon has long been centred on the role photographic images take in recovering overlooked histories. In 2020 – 2023, she created Intervening in the Collections Vaults: The University of Victoria, a series of long-exposure self-portraits of Gammon with artwork created by women artists and owned by the University of Victoria and kept in its vaults and archives. Her purpose was to spend time with the work of women artists who came before her so that she might pay regard to her professional antecedents whose work lies dormant, waiting to be exhibited.
There is an archaeological sensibility to Gammon’s photographic images. To create the series, Gammon travelled deep into the University’s art vaults with Art Collection Technician Roger Huffman and into the archives with the Director of Special Collections and University Archivist Lara Wilson, carefully opening conservation boxes, peeling back, and unwrapping acid-free paper that helps protect the work to reveal a treasure. They then created temporary viewing space on cabinets, storage shelves, and containers within the vault. Then, with the shutter of her historic Graflex Speed Graphic 4 X 5 analogue camera wide open, she sat quietly, meditating upon each work for eight to twenty minutes. Then, each piece of art was mindfully rewrapped and reboxed to become dormant again.
Gammon’s murky photographs register the hidden presence of their artwork. These images elicit a sense that the artwork is both present and cannot be fully known, as we cannot either see the work or come to know the artists. Gammon’s photographs, instead, invite us to call the women artists and their work to mind.
Her installation pieces assemble many images in a seemingly random way. The overlapping images of these assemblages erode any sense that history unfolds linearly or that the photographic image is truthful. There is a visual richness to these sculptures that brings the visual clutter of these storage spaces into the more usually ordered space of the exhibition gallery.
Carolyn Butler Palmer, (curator for the exhibition Latent at the Legacy Art Gallery, Victoria BC. 2024)