James Powditch’s new collection, ‘Codakhrome’, explores the currency of objects as fertile (albeit fallible) embodiments of memory, transforming the detritus of our urban surrounds into bold interrogations of history, politics, environmentalism, pop culture and religion.
Each work is crested with a dominant motif that dissolves into the assemblage like fallen moments fading before our eyes. Flowers, toys and book covers become less distinct and fragment as they drip down the work, incorporating other small elements of memory into the greater narrative. For Powditch, the motif of flowers conjures romance, warmth, passion and youth, yet these images also connote decay and death. Here we see the paradox of memory; that it can beautify the ugly, soften the traumatic and wither over time until the last petal has fallen.
Some of the assemblages are crafted on pianola role strips, generating what the artist terms a ‘soundtrack for the image’. The pianola typology reads from the bottom up, backwards, like the mechanics of memory. Meanwhile, small ‘sight phrase cards’ can be found throughout the series, such as ‘I am’ and ‘we were’ – evocative short phrases that reflect moments in the present mingling with vestiges of the past.
Informed by a lifetime of obsessively collecting and cataloguing objects, Powditch reflects on the power we invest in ‘things’. The collages in ‘Codakhrome’ are mosaics of memory, responding to our digital age of photographic surplus and ultimately revealing how imagination can permeate the thin membrane of memory and create new truths that shine just as bright as the present moment.