Present Perfect Continuous

2012 | We never remain who we once were.  We never become who we start out to be. Present Perfect Continuous is about change through time. Created for the Groundstory exhibition, the work looks at change through items left behind and the memories attached to them. The title is a verb tense for expressing actions that began in the past and continue in the present. “You have been changing since you were born” is an example of the present perfect continuous. Such are the transitions we experience throughout life. Whoever we grow to become, all of us retain parts of our earlier selves through memories, keepsakes, beliefs, and other connectors, both tangible and intangible.

Present Perfect Continuous as an artwork began in 2005 upon my move to Atlanta. Though I was returning to the deep South of my upbringing, I experienced the profound displacement that comes with moving to a city where you know no one and have no particular connections. I found certain things familiar: traditional Southern cooking, thick accents, and the smell in the air early on a damp summer morning. Still, although I was in the South, I was no longer of the South.

A few months before moving, I had begun scanning some old childhood photos and slides. When I unpacked the originals in Atlanta, I studied them for a bit, considering that I was now living not all that far from where those photos originated, yet I was a lifetime removed. On impulse and for no conscious reason, I began digitally removing myself from the images that document my childhood. I printed a few, tacked them on a board, and went about the business of building a life in Georgia.

When the opportunity to exhibit in Groundstory arose, I returned to the photos. I have incorporated both the background images and the cutouts because I was in those places and that was me, but I am no longer there and that is no longer me. The shipping crate serves as an archive, displaying items that evoke memories or points in time from my early years in the South, conjure the person I used to be, and mark the person I am today. These items—and the memories they stir—are present, perfect, continuous.