News: KLEA McKENNA at SFMOMA, March  6, 2021 News: KLEA McKENNA at SFMOMA, March  6, 2021


March 6, 2021

Klea McKenna
No Feeling Is Final, 2020
Installation of 140 ink-based photograms 11x14 inches each and
approximately 230 dyed vintage handkerchiefs - various sizes
12x44 feet

This work began as an experiment in how to make photographic art while at home with two small children during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order. I began making cameraless photographs (photograms) on the roof of our apartment, using the limited materials available to me and the fading effect that sunlight and time inflict on fugitive ink colors. I use old handkerchiefs as my negatives. They are artifacts of personal health and hygiene; intimate objects that have each been carried by someone and absorbed their body’s fluids: snot, sweat, and tears. In another era the gesture of offering your handkerchief was a way of expressing compassion for someone else’s suffering.

As the pandemic unfolds and wildfires compound our collective loss, I have begun to see these images as representing a growing crowd of individuals. The expansive grid is akin to the charts of data I check daily, each time confronted by the limitations of perceiving human experience through statistics. In contrast, the handkerchiefs become ever more imperfect and corporeal—worn, dyed black to block the sun, and then faded by exposure to it, their wrinkles and folds become smoky stains. This transformation has become my mourning ritual. The handkerchiefs are both the source of the images and the remains of the process―shadow skins of the pictures they made.

— Klea McKenna

Select "Download Article (PDF)" below for a selection of available work from this series.
Each is a diptych of 14 x 11 inch ink-based photograms.

Download Article (PDF)
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