The Disappeared

Tatiana Grigorenko, Confederate Flag, 16.5 x 11.5 inch archival inkjet print on cotton rag paper and collage, 2010-2012

Tatiana Grigorenko, Kremlin, 16.5 x 11.5 inch archival inkjet print on cotton rag paper and collage, 2010-2012

Zoë Heyn-Jones, Atitlán 3, 12 x 18 inch inkjet print on fibrous paper; from scanned Super 8 film stills, 2013

Zoë Heyn-Jones, Atitlán 5, 12 x 18 inch inkjet print on fibrous paper; from scanned Super 8 film stills, 2013

Tatiana Grigorenko, The Disappeared installation view, image by Alvin Luong

Zoë Heyn-Jones, Guatemala City to Santiago Atitlán, 00:02:30 (loop) 16mm film; blown up from hand-processed Super 8 film, 2011/2015. Installation view, image by Alvin Luong.

The Disappeared

Friday, January 16, 2015 to Saturday, February 21, 2015
Opening Reception
January 16,
6:00PM to 8:00PM
Brunch Talk
January 17,
12:00PM to 2:00PM
About the Exhibition: 

This exhibition uses various techniques from collage to the documentary to explore issues of visibility. Grigorenko’s images are inspired by Soviet-era photographs in which certain individuals - having become politically undesirable - were made to figuratively disappear, while Heyn-Jones traces the route from Guatemala City to Santiago Atitlán, leading to the site of the Mayan genocide.

Tatiana Grigorenko Artist Statement:

Tatiana Grigorenko’s interdisciplinary work focuses on the relationship between the individual and his world within an over-arching social-political context. Born in the United States to a family of Soviet political dissidents, history, especially the history of repression, is central to her practice. She is interested in how one navigates and eventually emancipates one’s body, identity and memory from the context of pre-defined social models and “official” histories, discourses and hegemonic narratives. Through collage, photography, video and text, her work examines revolt, resistance, power dynamics and ultimately, their common underlying thread: the search for utopia.

“The Disappeared” was inspired by Soviet photographs in which certain individuals, who had become politically undesirable, were literally made to “disappear” from history. For this series, Grigorenko appropriated snapshots taken by her parents shortly after their arrival in the US from the USSR in 1978. She reprinted the photographs on thick, cotton rag paper and used a cutter, collage and paint to physically remove her childhood presence. The material proof of Grigorenko’s existence was in this way erased, while an element of gestural abstraction was introduced.

“The Disappeared” explores questions of memory and historical revisionism. By extension, it investigates photography’s role in constructing (or reconstructing) history. Grigorenko is interested in how our inherent trust in photography can be exploited to create a fictional truth, one that is modeled on our desires rather than our realities.

Zoë Heyn-Jones Artist Statement:

Taking experimental ethnography as its theoretical starting point, the series Atitlán is composed of photographic prints on paper and a 16mm film that explore the possibility of cultural representation through landscape and motion.

The route from Guatemala City to Santiago Atitlán is traced in single frames, highlighting velocity and corporeality in the interstitial spaces of travel. This route takes on both personal and socio-political valences – a route well traveled by the artist in childhood, as well as a route that leads to the locus of one of the most notorious massacres of Indigenous Mayans by the Guatemalan government during the civil war of the 1960s-1990s.

In Atitlán, culture is represented by the movement of the body and the lens through space. By refusing to photograph the human figure, Atitlán implicitly investigates the norms of lens-based documentary image making, focusing on embodied memory and the loci of trauma rather than indexical reportage. This strategy is tactical, envisioning an experimental documentary practice premised on decolonial aesthetics and cross-cultural communication.

Exhibiting stills gleaned from motion picture film troubles the dichotomy of still/moving images, implying an examination of the perceptual norms of visual culture. The use of hand-processed Super 8 film - with its scratches, scrapes, and scuffs - foregrounds the materiality of celluloid and speaks to the liminal spaces between cinema and photography; between evidence and abstraction; between document and art.


Essay by Alison Cooley


Artist Biography: 

Tatiana Grigorenko was born and grew up in New York City. After a brief stint as a professional ballet dancer, she received her BA in Fine Arts and French in 2003 from Amherst College and her MFA in photography in 2010 from Yale School of Art. Named Emerging Photographer of 2009 by the Magenta Foundation and Wallpaper Magazine’s 2011 New Graduate Talent to Watch, Tatiana Grigorenko’s work has been exhibited widely, including the Queens Museum in New York, Philadelphia Photo Arts, Yale Art Gallery, Paris Photo Los Angeles and the American University of Paris. She lives and works in New York and Paris.

Zoë Heyn-Jones is a Toronto-based researcher and visual artist focusing on ethnography and expanded cinema. Zoë is currently a PhD student in Visual Art at York University. Zoë studied cinema and anthropology at the University of Toronto, and holds an MA in Film Studies from Concordia University and an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University.


Alison Cooley is a writer, curator, and educator based in Toronto. Her work deals with the intersection of natural history and visual culture, socially-engaged artistic practice, craft histories, and experiential modes of art criticism. She is the 2014 co-recipient of the Middlebrook Prize for Young Curators, and her critical writing has recently appeared in FUSE, Canadian Art, and KAPSULA. She is also the host and producer of What It Looks Like, a podcast about art in Canada.