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Research Residency

Gwenessa Lam Research Residency

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In Search of Fire is a body of work that explores stock and mediated images of house fires, and how their circulation on-line creates new and unexpected narratives. Of particular interest are images found on meme-generator websites or other media sharing platforms that provide blanket representations of disaster.

Commerce, GA is a specific print project within this series that Lam is investigating at Malaspina. Named after a city in Georgia, the project traces a specific house fire image posted by a local resident and how it subsequently reappears on different websites. What begins as a verifiable news event quickly expands into a larger narrative that blurs the line between perceived and constructed realities.

This research project involves the production of the house fire drawing (found online) into an etching. The translation not only breaks down the image, but adds to it, employing methods of reproduction as strategies for permutation rather than replication or dissemination. In addition, text taken from the 29 websites on which the image appears will be indexed on 29 prints. They will exist as a separate set of digital prints or transfers that accompany the etching—their interchangeability and range in content sits in contrast to the singular image, with a context subject to change.

Gwenessa Lam received her BFA from the University of British Columbia and MFA from New York University. She has taught at New York University, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the University of British Columbia. She has attended residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Skowhegan, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Banff Centre. Her work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art, the Queens Museum of Art in New York, Galerie de L’UQAM, and Republic Gallery in Vancouver. Lam is currently on faculty at the Alberta College of Art and Design.