“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –“ said Alice.
“Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.”
To view Drew Klausner's "Lost & Found" is to wander, like an Alice in Wonderland, through other people’s old family albums. Klausner starts with vintage found photographs. There’s one of a young woman in a double strand of pearls who fiddles with the white sunglasses she took off for the picture. There’s one of somebody’s farmer’s-tanned uncle in swim trunks. Still vain about his physique, he’s pinching a cigarette and eying the camera. Somebody chose that moment to snap a picture, dropped the film at the drugstore, shuffled through a stack of prints, and pasted that one into a scrapbook because it marked an occasion or was taken the winter before so-and-so died. What’s missing is the family member patiently explaining who’s who, what’s what, and how – or if – this relates to that. Using the titles of the works and sometimes keywords on the sides of the frames, Klausner drops suggestions. But mostly he leaves the explaining to you.
What is the work about? Do you hear notes of sadness and loss? Do you pick up a theme of family identity? Do you love the fantasy stirring behind the mundane? Do the pictures ultimately address a simpler time in America? Or simply the stopping and stretching of time? We all come to photographs bearing different sets of questions, ideas, and needs.
Klausner actually presents two closely related bodies of work. The larger pictures, digital prints, play with the family album tradition of mixing image and words. Take, for example, the attractive young woman in pearls. Instead of, say, ‘Rita in the Park” Klausner uses the keywords “Passing Beauty Loss Comfort Detachment Secrets Suspicion Uncertainty.” And back to you.
As for the smaller pictures, they are lenticular “flip” photographs to be read by moving in either direction, shape-shifting or transforming their subjects as you do so. A sailor pops up and down in a sunbather’s palm. The Eiffel Tower becomes The Great Pyramid becomes somebody’s modest bungalow. Getting closer only blurs the image.
That’s okay because these images are not just about looking at folks from the past. “I can’t go back to yesterday,” Alice observes, “because I was a different person then.” You come away from “Lost & Found” mulling over your own family, your own friends, your own life, what was then and who you are now. Inevitably the stories you find are your own.
Benjamin McKendall, Educator, Modern Art Museum Guide