Essay by J. Kaufman, Ph. D.
In “And let it go…” Leslie Gabaldon continues her themes of memory and loss. The series depicts abject objects—broken toys, burst balloons, torn paper, a hidden beach-ball—that stand in for human absence and the broken quality of relationships. The relationships are ambiguous; it might be between people, our relationship to nature, to our childhood, to the past, or to all of these. Each photo, whether objectified as a plexi-clipboard, a light-box, or behind plexi etched with words, becomes a memento of silence comforted by a humble visual poetry.
In the play between focus and unfocus in these works, sharp focus implies a closeness or intimacy while other areas become veils of misrepresentation. These blurred areas, often the predominant areas, remind one of seeing through tears, as in water from one’s eyes, or tears, as in rips through a boundary. Surprisingly these sightings feel like very quiet, private moments that are reassuring. Perhaps it is the chance of finding these aesthetic moments in a society that has become visually glutted with crass, electronic media—television, the internet, cell phones—that draws us to the works. Or perhaps they seem like relics of emotion that we no longer have the language to communicate.
The balancing act in these works is risky. They could easily turn into the sardonic kitsch and ironic sentimentality evident in much contemporary art. But Gabaldon’s images survive as sincere due to their formal unity and delicacy, both as individual representations and as a series. The play of different images, and of images with words, reinforces the above themes, fracturing any simple or single interpretation. As it should be, the viewer is left to their own thoughts and sensibilities, perhaps in a small, private corner of their mind. —-John Kaufman, 10-30-2008