Holly Matthews | Artist Statement

Cycle of Use

I am fascinated by framed photographs that are donated to thrift and secondhand stores. They are donated in the hope of another person finding a use for them. I purchase them and use them as my photographic subjects. By photographing them in their frame, I transform these three-dimensional forms into two-dimensional signage. I print them to scale to maintain their continuity, and place them void of an environment to de-contextualize them. I present the amount of money paid for each item to confirm their scale and show their assigned value in a secondary market.

A photograph is framed to suggest importance. I am reframing these photographs and bringing them into an art context. I choose these specific items because they embody many aspects of American culture and iconography. They are examples of how photography is used by many people. I am showing the abundance of framed photography within American throwaway culture by displaying a large collection. I want to emphasize their lack of value to their former owners because they were discarded, and also highlight their arbitrary value given to them in a secondary market.

Because these framed photographs cannot die, they exist in a cycle of use. We can only guess the reasons why they ended up for sale at a secondhand store. Whatever function they had is now obsolete to their former owners. I am giving them a new function as cultural signifiers. When I leave Chicago I intend on donating these items back thus returning them to this cycle.