Birch Contemporary

Mitch Robertson: Tourist

We are pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Mitch Robertson

“Remember when I almost fell off and you grabbed me?”

As each image clicks forward, we recall the trip as if it was our own. On this night, my ten-year-old is reminiscing about “Egypt 1973”. I wasn’t born yet.The Kodak slide projector illuminates our basement wall as my family advances through a carousel of recently purchased vacation slides. The image my son is recalling, for the first time, is of a family on camels with the pyramids in the background. These memories, shot by someone unknown to us who has presumably passed on, are becoming our memories through a game we play.Over the last decade, I have amassed over 15,000 slides from various estate sales. Often, they arrive in their original boxes or carousels with the contents hand labelled. The “curation” of each box made sense to the photographer – “Egypt 1973”, “Mike’s wedding” or “Christmas 1966”. Knowing nothing of the people whose histories I have purchased, I have curated many of these images into new categories that make sense for me using entirely different criteria. As a result, the context and history for each unique image is replaced by a larger, collective experience where truths are replaced by the agenda of the new story-teller. This can be said for how all experiences evolve with time.

The resulting work finds commonality amongst disparate images and proposes a new singular account. In Swimming Pool, for example, one larger pool is created by staggering the heights of four images to line up the pool edge. With the four photos now joined, the people in each frame, once the sole muse of each photographer, now appear to vie for our attention.

These themes are shared in another series in which two distinct images that recall each other visually, are merged. Two women on beds, animals in zoos or motel swimming pools each depict the differences and coincidental similarities of these tangential memories.