From anonymous black-and-white snap shots and other cultural flotsam forgotten in Vietnam's footrace toward peace, artist Bradford Edwards has created timeless collages with life's un-extraordinary details, revealing new spins on old realities that give cohesive form to disparate pieces of the past.
In his latest exhibition at the FCC, darkly painted Cambodian betelnut boxes serve as the foundation for many of the works. On the inside, Edwards has silver-leafed and glued and stapled vintage photographs and documents, maps and music sheets, translucent, psychedelic 45- and 33-rpm records.
Rich with texture, color and form, these and other remnants of Vietnamese society since the 1940s more often than not frame one vintage, anonymous portrait: a young man with a 50s crew cut, a pin-up girl with an alluring smile.
By posing the questions, Who are these people? What were their lives like? Edwards, who is also an accomplished photographer, quite literally at times aims the camera at the viewer and demands answers to the corollaries of his questions — Who are you? And what of your life?
Titled "Borrowed Memory," Edwards most recent body of work not so much provokes introspective thought on these questions as much as it renders irrelevant any answers.
"Borrowing all this history, this collection of memories that do not connect directly but all share the same time, co-existing, but probably never crossing ... I take these memories and rewrite the past, a certain version of the past, a particular history that is partly my romantic view of the images that are left, the lore, the rumor, the fascination ... I reconstruct a dream from the stuff of the real, the common place, the ordinary," Edwards says in his artist statement.
On display at the FCC Phnom Penh until January 15, "Borrowed Memory" is Edward's fourth exhibit at the FCC since 1997. "Borrowed Memory" will also be on display at the FCC Angkor during the month of February.