Joy Kardish | Years Reimagined
Sept 9 - 30

Saturday, September 9 @ 5 - 8 pm
Artist Discussion: Friday, Sept. 29, 5 - 6 pm.
Join us for a sit-down conversation between Joy Kardish, Ava Margueritte, and Curator, Tiffany April

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Wall Space gallery is proud to present Years Reimagined, the latest body of photographic works of Ottawa-based artist Joy Kardish. Merging the worlds of historic photographic practices with contemporary technologies, Kardish captures the quiet way that memories transform as they grow with us, informing our sense of self and healing. Reanimating objects and moments from her own life to reimagine her childhood of abuse, Kardish explores the powerful pull of sentiment embedded in our environment; in both the objects we choose to house our memories and the places that our life paths lead us. 

There is an enchantment shimmering beneath Kardish's images, a feeling of longing; not in a nostalgic reaching for the past directly, but for the space to imagine. The objects that Kardish chooses to capture are tableaus of the complex emotional layers of memories; combining the sweetly sentimental with feelings of loss through absences and transparency.

"In the words of American photographer Peter Liepke, 'In a world that is far from perfect, I am far more interested in the aspect of showing the viewer what could be instead of what is.'"

- Joy Kardish

In The End, a framed photo of a little girl stands beside a copy of A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket; a popular series of children’s books following the deeply traumatic, perpetual misfortune of the three fictitious Baudelaire orphans. The little girl in the photograph could be standing in opposition to the narrative of the book, a happy moment frozen in time, or she could be swept into the undertones of foreboding. The traditional technique of platinum palladium printing, invented in the 19th Century, gives the piece a monotone sepia glow; suggesting the objects captured belong to many years passed. However, the contemporary book of Snicket’s pulls us back into the present era.

Kardish chooses her subjects carefully, collapsing time through mixed associations of cultural narrative and aesthetics of early photography. Scarf, features a Jewish wedding shawl draped over a throne-like chair from a visit Kardish took to the Jewish Museum in Rome. Preferring to use colour sparingly in her work, this is one of the most chromatic pieces in the exhibition.

The shifted doubling and transparency of the image lends it a spectral quality that allows it to transform away from mere representation. At first glance, the shawl as such is ambiguous, and the fabric appears to be draped around the head and upper torso of a figure with raised arms. Kardish animates the languid shawl into an active object or figure, seeming to exist effortlessly within two moments at once.

There’s an inherent level of care and attention to detail in Kardish’s processes of developing in bromoil, platinum palladium, solar plate, and cyanotype. They embed a tenderness and physicality to how Kardish brings her ‘invented memories’ to life. Each requires its unique and varying levels of time, energy, and chemistry.

"Driven by a desire to reveal the world as I see it in its ephemeral beauty, this collection of photographs marries simple life objects with a flair for giving them new life, and by extension, new meaning. Each piece is the result of countless hours in the refuge of my darkroom"

- Joy Kardish

The physical labouring of bringing these works to life allows for shifts between control and lack of control over the final outcome. Kardish, within her near monochrome palette, maintains a sensitive connection to colour and her use of it is meaningful. For instance, in Room with a View, Kardish has colourized the roses in a warm pink using pastels, a shift so subtle they go almost unnoticed until the slanting light carries us to them – a small interruption of sensation through colour.Many of the images printed in early techniques might not turn out as initially envisioned, but it is precisely those moments that Kardish seeks; and she recognizes exactly when her manipulation of the process has struck a chord between reality and fiction.

- Tiffany April, Curator

Years Reimagined Catalogue

Joy Kardish has studied photography at SPAO and numerous workshops and educational courses. Inspired by the enduring prints of early masters like Alfred Stieglitz, Kardish blends painstaking historic photography techniques such as cyanotype, with contemporary media to create works that seem to transcend the flow of time and cut through its ephemeral distractions.

Kardish is privately and publicly collected and has exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2023, she was a finalist in the Julia Margaret Cameron Photography Awards and the Project X Award. Recently, she was an APEX Award finalist (2022) and a winner of the 2021 and 2018 Soho Art Gallery Alternative Process Competition.