MARGARET KRISTENSEN’S PUBLIC EXPERIMENT
by Marguerite Serkin
Margaret Kristensen knows the 1950s well. Although she is in her twenties, Kristensen’s eclectic collection of prints, created from negatives dating from the 1940s through the 1960s, are a frank and authentic lesson in the history of the times. “UNCOVERED: Collected Photo- graphic Memories” includes just a few of the over 1,000 negatives the photographer has collected in the past year.
“Most of the appropriated images I work with are discarded family photos from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s in the U.S.,” Kristensen said. “Because I am working with images that predate myself, I have a more in-depth reflection of time as the images are further displaced from my contemporary environment. Collecting negatives that have been discarded, I build a narrative between the individual images by combining aspects from different images into a singular body of work. I aim to develop links between people and places that never existed together.”
In one portrait, a young boy with rolled up pants and too-large shoes stands awkwardly, hands in deep pockets, beside a man wearing a bow tie, white pants and button down shirt. They are outdoors, standing on pavement, with only a sparse storefront and what is now a vintage automobile in the background to give the viewer context. In another print, a young girl, wearing a frilly party dress and a rigid plastic headband so emblematic of the 1960s, sits at a picnic table under a single balloon hanging from the sunshade overhead. Other children seated beside her enjoy cupcakes and drink from waxed Dixie cups. The subjects in these photographs are recognizable as strangers who might well be relatives, neighbors or the family next door.