Alyson Provax: Old Long Since
January 16 - February 21Free
“The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” – Milan Kundera In Alyson Provax’s own words: “”Old Long Since” is the literal translation of the Scots-language “Auld Lang Syne.” Auld Lang Syne is credited to Robert Burns, but he wrote it down after hearing an old man sing it, and the Robert Burns version bears similarity to older poems. In practice, this is similar to my approach to my work – many of the phrases in this body of work came from things I read this year: the barrage of emails sent by corporations at the beginning of the pandemic, reality TV, news stories and books. And the song itself feels like a fitting reference for this show – I’ve never sung it at new years, but I’ve become nostalgic about past new years eve parties and spending time with friends, and I think that when those big celebrations happen again I’ll be more likely to want to mark the occasion in some way. I love that the song is about friendship. But in some places Auld Lang Syne is also used to celebrate other endings/beginnings, like at the election of new government (which is an interesting connection considering how close the show is to the inauguration). But I also tend to agree with Milan Kundera that nostalgia is always flawed – we can feel kindly towards most moments simply because they are over and won’t recur, so we’re likely to have nostalgia for this time when the pandemic is over, as ‘everything is illuminated in the aura of nostalgia.’ But of course memories are powerful even when we know that they’re not entirely true.”
Provax uses the letterpress as other artists may use a paint brush or chisel. She imbues various paper types not only with words and phrases that often ring poetic, but with pigment, embossing, wrinkles and buildup of ink. The work comes alive with the reaction of the paper to repeated pressing and is best appreciated with the ability to handle the work, turning it this way and that to take in the textures before they become trapped under glass within a frame.
In order to deliver this intimate experience with the work, AGENDA and Provax are inviting viewers to schedule a 15 minute time slot to handle the work with gloved hands. The gloves will be printed with a phrase that will change depending on which gloves are chosen and will be gifted to each viewer who participates in this event. During the opening event on January 16, the artist will be present and available to talk about the work. The ability to handle the work will continue through the entire exhibition.
RSVP for the Artist Reception Saturday 1/16/21 3-6PM and otherwise BY APPOINTMENT at https://calendly.com/agenda-pdx/alyson-provax-old-long-since-opening