My art installation titled The Diana Days is at the Studio Place Arts gallery through September 24th. The installation includes 20 archival pigment prints along with a 20 minute film. For those of you who can’t make it to the show, I’ve included the photographs and artist statement. I’m also trying to upload the enormous film file. We’ll see about that.
About The Diana Days
by Nikki Gardner
My artwork explores the intersection between art and everyday life and truth and fiction through filmmaking, photography, and text. Stories, regardless of their origin, seem to be as necessary in life as food, shelter, and companionship. We tell stories to entertain and to uncover some greater truth in life. We also tell them stories to document our lives, to leave a mark in our eventual absence.
The Diana Days, a photographic and filmic narrative explores the relationship between truth and fiction. In this installation, I use photographs and film to tell the story of Diana, an artist who documents the traces of three stranger’s lives in public spaces: The Traveler, The Artist, and The Shopkeeper. Diana weaves together the objects and stories that characterize each stranger, including: an English dictionary, a stubbed cigarette butt and crumpled box, a Maine atlas, a Kodak Magimatic camera, a red notebook, a painting of a house, a typewriter, and a white suitcase.
Filmed in black and white, the installation shifts perspective from the narrator’s point of view told through the twenty photographic film stills to Diana’s point of view told through the twenty-minute film.
In the photographs, we see Diana in action. She follows three strangers and imagines their intertwined lives through the personal belongings they leave behind. In a hotel room, Diana finds a Maine atlas, a Kodak Magimatic camera, and a white suitcase, which belong to The Traveler. She links a dictionary, a red notebook, and post-it note with a phone and license plate on it to The Artist which she finds outside his studio. At a train station she finds The Shopkeeper’s typewriter and stubbed cigarette butt and crumpled box, and in the back of The Shopkeeper’s gallery, there is a painting for sale made by The Artist.
Diana’s investigation takes her inside a theater, an apartment building, a hotel, a train station, an artist studio, a parking garage, and a diner. Each photograph imparts a sense of mystery and tells a partial narrative, one that is intentionally left unanswered.
Shot from Diana’s point of view, the film shows The Traveler entering a café, The Artist painting on the side of a building, and The Shopkeeper closing her gallery and café (the same one The Traveler entered) at closing time.
The Diana Days began as a desire to investigate the role narrative plays in making art as well as the stories we invent to preserve our existence. It questions the boundaries that necessarily overlap between truth and fiction. It also speaks to the role of authorship and asks questions such as Whose voice is telling the story of The Diana Days, the author, the narrator, the artist or necessarily all three? and How do we choose the histories or stories that define us?.