Sara Cwynar’s work Encyclopedia Grid (Acropolis) is featured on the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center’s Daily Art Moment by Sara Krajewski, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Sara Cwynar’s Encyclopedia Grid (Acropolis) tugs at my wanderlust. During the pandemic, I’ve traveled very little and have not been very far from Portland. Here, Cwynar arranges what appear to be clips and cuttings of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece on a blue backdrop. Each image in the grid shows a finger placed on a reproduction of this historic site taken from collected postcards, travel books, and art history textbooks. Layers of picture-taking pile up in the composition; they suggest the ways that images inform our memories, affect our perceptions, and shape our world view. How often do we remember a vacation spot based on the photo we took or the postcard we bought?
The repeated visual presence of her finger is an important detail for me: touching these mementos and paging through a guide book resonate in my body in ways that swiping or clicking a screen doesn’t. I find this work compelling in the way Cwynar playfully pins down this symbol of Western civilization, ordering its many visual representations like kitschy specimens to be poked and prodded with questions about history, relevance, and power.
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