Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Final St. John's Farewell: Rhonda Pelley's Bus Shelter Interventions

I'm back from my foray to St. John's, but wanted to flag one more Newfoundland art find before I move back to more mainlander-centric fare.

While walking around St. John's, I was struck by some subdued colour photographs, like the one above, inserted into ad spaces in various St. John's bus stops. The photo-posters direct viewers to a site that provides more information about the project, "Spirit Rooms" by Newfoundland photographer Rhonda Pelley. As Pelley explains on the site,

Five photographs of interiors are installed in the illuminated advertising spaces in bus shelters along bus route 2 throughout St. John’s. The photographs illustrate an emotional journey through the life-threatening illness and four seasons long recovery of my mother. During this time I took public transit on a regular basis and the bus became an important part of this experience. Waiting for and riding the bus was an enforced pause in a time of crisis – the eye of the storm – a break from a time that was filled with fear, anxiety, and sadness.

For me, these images represent a missed loved one whose presence is remembered in the room’s surfaces but whose body is not found. In their absence, the missing one becomes the subject of the photograph. This emptiness once shaped itself around the person who is now threatening eternal absence. The photographs are an attempt to investigate these spaces after the animated soul leaves them behind.

This narrative of illness doesn't come across completely in the installations, but the meeting of quiet, subdued, private imagery with public space is definitely something like the visual equivalent of an earworm--would that be an eyeworm? (ewwww). In any case, though the site says the project finished up June 20, there are still some of these posters to be found around the city. Worth a look-see if you're around those parts.

Photo by Rhonda Pelley from her Jpgmag site

No comments: