A view to call one’s own, installation view, Emily Geen, 2015

Emily Geen

Artist Statement: A view to call one’s own

In A view to call one’s own, notions of territory are both critiqued by the artwork and experienced by the viewer. It is a mutable installation of seven-foot-tall inkjet prints and panes of glass, always situated in a corridor setting. Three small snapshots have been pulled from my parents’ shoebox archives, then enlarged, repeated, and cropped as inkjet prints that are adhered directly to the available walls. They picture the construction of my parents’ first home together on a small agricultural acreage in the Okanagan Valley in the late 80s. The images overlook snowy hills and gullies amidst a picturesque sunset. Property lines, tree lines, and roadways segregate the land. Meanwhile, the windows and doorways frame the view, much like the camera taking the pictures. Both are strategic in capitalizing on the vastness of the scenery.

These snapshots are indicative of our desire to frame and to fix - through photography, through property, and through architecture. As a part of this installation however, the perceived stability of these territorial gestures is questioned. The delineating edges and rigid surfaces inherent in glass work alongside the paneling of the images to create a fragmented montage of both pictorial and real space. Some of the glass is semi-reflective, allowing images on the opposing wall to be superimposed on top of others, as translucent reflections. As the viewer passes through the piece, they become entangled in a web of images, as well as encountering the image of themselves.

Occasionally punctuating the enlarged snapshots and glass is a one-to-one scaled, high-resolution scan of a sheet of plywood. It is akin to that pictured in the partially constructed home. The inclusion of an image of plywood (as opposed to actual plywood) reminds us that the installation is operating within the realm of images (despite the material presence of the glass). It works to further conflate pictorial space, physical space and virtual space.

When this artwork is considered within the greater context of its site, we can further view it as a broader critique of not only photography, but also of architecture. A corridor is usually a functional space for getting somewhere - it implies a directed passage from one zone to another. In A view to call one’s own, this linearity is disrupted by a rhizomatic territory. It reminds us of the potential for a corridor to be seen as a transitory, yet communal space, with multiple entry and exit points.

Perhaps we are compelled to participate in the acts of taking pictures, segregating land and building structures as ways to simulate security. Through a slippage between subject, image, material and viewer, A view to call one’s own serves to remind us that these systems of spatial organization are societally-generated, and contingent upon our perception of them.

The impulse to capture lived experience through the camera is always accompanied by the problems of framing and fixing. It becomes an effort in translating corporeally understood space into a pictorial one. This act often leaves out the peripheral, the perceptual, and the phenomenological. One’s ability to draw these things out of an image is contingent upon their contextual awareness of it. In my studio practice, I decompress recorded images, regenerating our potential relationships with them by configuring them in new contexts and capacities. 

To do this, I elevate banal and ambiguous found snapshots by creating sculptural viewing scenarios for them. I purposefully work with images that are mundane, ambiguous, amateur, and hopefully, relatable. In conjunction with these images, I use materials and forms that aid in directing our perception of pictorial content. I often use the delineating edges and rigid surfaces inherent in glass to fragment or obstruct, frequently in conjunction with its reflectivity to create image-image and viewer-image relationships.

In this way, I seek to mobilize the viewer within a liminal space where there is a slippage between subject, image, material and self. In other words, the phenomenological inclinations of the work elicit viewers’ awareness for themselves in relationship to the images’ subjects by means of sculptural form. I propose an oscillation between the “there” and the “now.” Viewers are also put into the position of the photographer, generating empathy for a moment in time that was once experienced by another person. Our psychology and body are put in dialogue with that of another.


Emily Geen is an emerging contemporary artist working between images and materials, investigating the contemporary condition of looking as mediated by recorded images. Emily is originally from Lake Country, BC, and she still considers the Okanagan Valley her home base as she continues to move between educational and career opportunities in BC & Alberta. She completed her BFA at UBC Okanagan in 2012. Emily then pursued her MFA at the University of Victoria, graduating in 2015. Her exhibition history spans much of Western Canada, including solo exhibitions in Victoria, Kelowna, and Calgary. She has recently been included in group shows in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ajijic, Mexico. Emily is currently a studio arts instructor at the University of Victoria and at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey. She looks forward to attending the Banff Centre in 2016 for a residency exploring new materiality in contemporary art.

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