Kit Abate’s stirring exhibition Where We Once Were is a visual treat. Coupling the nostalgia of Polaroid photographs and the anonymity of today’s technology, Abate delivers a potent illustration of the ubiquitous nature of “missed connections”.
The artist was on hand to provide a more personal look at her process. Abate described that the idea began with a portfolio review and three photographs incongruous with the rest of her work, yet highly relative to one another. The artist shared that these images evoked a sense of loss for her, and it was this idea of loss that led to the exhibit.
She began visiting Craigslist and poring over hundreds of ads in the “missed connection” category. Abate noted that that the ads chosen for the show were incongruous to others she had seen on the site. Not only were they highly specific in their aim and verbiage, but also referenced very specific locations; the others were in essence, shouts into the void. Even the fact that the ads were either expunged from Craigslist after 45 days or simply suffocated amongst others with a similar cry added to the sense of bereavement and mislaid kinships.
Through painstaking research and documentation of each of these points, Abate set out to photograph each location with her Polaroid camera. Using the map as her nucleus, the artist placed a red string at each pinned reference point. This ambitious installation does not disappoint; the artist effectively creates a visual web that draws the viewer into the stories behind each string.
The subject and the artist’s framing ensure that each image evokes a forlorn and somewhat misplaced emotion. Pairing the ad with the image, as well as a pin with a reference number to her map, Abate succinctly comments on loss and its omnitude.
Additionally, Abate posted her own ad in the “missed connections” category on Craigslist, appropriately set to disappear into the void of the internet right after the show. The artist commented that she hoped people would find their way to the show because of the post; in essence completing the circle of interconnectivity.