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“Things We Leave Behind” Photographic Installation, On Exhibit

Broken Door from the series Things We Leave Behind by Gina Genis

If you knew you would never return to your house, but strangers would go inside and learn about you from what they see, what would you leave out and what would you hide?

Things We Leave Behind, my photographic installation, is on exhibit at Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA) in Chinatown, Los Angeles. It is a three artist exhibit titled Nmemonic Ritual and runs through August 18, 2012.

Things We Leave Behind was photographed inside the home of a deceased man. He was a hoarder. Creepy is the word I use for describing the feeling on the first day of shooting. I was wondering if the ghost of this man would punish me for intruding. I only photographed large sections of the rooms, not wanting to invade this man’s life, even though permission was given to be there.

Each time I returned, I gave myself permission to study his belongings. I began to know him, and strangely, liked him. Sure, he had his issues – who doesn’t. The house was a filthy, chaotic mess, but what he had in that house was interesting. His bookshelf revealed someone who loved music, literature, religion, and visual arts. He was searching for love and a reason for existence. Just like the rest of us.

I was able to acquire a great deal of the man’s furniture, books, personal writings, boxes of junk, and a whole slew of stuff anyone else would have thrown out years ago. I bought a $500 shed to house the mice and insect infested belongings. I told an art critic that I must be crazy for becoming a hoarder of a hoarder. She responded with “you’re not crazy, you’re an artist”. Things We Leave Behind is a recreation of his home on the day he left and never returned, and the photographs documenting the way it looked.

Photography of the installation of Things We Leave Behind at Coastline Community College

There is one more step to this exhibit. I am asking visitors to sit on the couch and be filmed answering the question: If you knew you would never return to your house, but strangers would go inside and learn about you from what they see, what would you leave out and what would you hide? The answers will be compiled and shown during this exhibit and the next one in June.

Things We Leave Behind was previously exhibited at Biola University, in La Mirada, CA, from March 19 – April 5, 2012. It accompanied Window Peeping, which was displayed in Biola’s main gallery, in a solo exhibit. The opening reception is March 20 from 7 -9 p.m. It was also shown at Coastline Community College, in an exhibit titled PHOTO + PLUS, curated by David Michael Lee.  Other photographers included Laurie Brown, Jerry Burchfield, Gina Genis, Robert Heinecken, Janice Lowry, Douglas McCulloh, and Clifton Meador.

UPDATE: Photo + PLUS was given a rave review in the OC Weekly issue of February 23, 2012. Read the review here.

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About Gina Genis

Hi Friends, I'm a photographer and artist who lives in Washington DC. I have two blogs. The Gina Genis Blog is about art and photography. My new blog, DC Discoveries is dedicated to showing you everything from fashion to art, food to entertainment in all sections of the District. I hope you will take the journey with me. I exhibit my work in museums and galleries across the U.S. I'm included in the permanent collections of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections Division of the University of Miami, Hard Rock Casino, Orange County Transit District, IBM, and the Sarah and Adam Markman Collection among others. My series "Window Peeping" was included in OsCene 2010 at the Laguna Art Museum, Truman State University, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Biola University, and solo shows at Gallery 825 and Cypress College. The "June Gloom" series was exhibited in a solo show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The "Kala" series has been exhibited at MPLS Photo Center, Cypress College, and Gallery 825. "Economy Portraits" was created as an Artist In Residence project at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and was awarded "Best Art Show of 2011" by the OC Weekly. I curated Wide Angle View, an exhibit of 16 international, award-winning photo and multi-media journalists at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to much critical acclaim. Recent reviews of my work have appeared in the Huffington Post, Art Scene, OC Weekly, Orange County Register, New University, Riviera Magazine, Coast Magazine, Huntington Beach Independent, and appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC, and more. I lead the Gina Genis Photo Workshops where I show beginning and intermediate photographers how to jump to the next level with their work. I also teach online photography courses through The Compelling Image.

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