Memories – lost, found, rediscovered – are the subject of much of San Francisco-based artist Colter Jacobsen’s work. His deft, subtle way with pen or pencil belies the more intriguing themes his work explores. Jacobsen first began his Proustian exploration by copying found postcards and old photographs (to which he had no personal connection) in pencil, often using antique or distressed paper, or even the back of old album sleeves to work on. He then explored this further by making a second copy from this drawn image, then showing both images side-by-side. In this way, the subtle variations between the two allude to the way memories change and alter over time, and also how our memories are inextricably linked with imagery – invariably old photographs. More recently Jacobsen has taken this idea even further and drawn the ‘second’ image from memory entirely, without referencing the original. What the viewer then sees is Jacobsen’s memory of someone else’s memory.
There is also an interesting series of painted-over newspaper pages, where he leaves only a few disparate images and words visible, creating an entirely new narrative from randomly connected events. Not a million miles away from Tom Phillips’ ongoing A Humament project, but Jacobsen’s take is far more droll and irreverent.
He has also recently collaborated with poet Bill Berkson on a series of images juxtaposing quotes from Berkson’s work with his own imagery, creating a strange series of pencil pictures which have no real narrative, and yet make a strange kind of sense as a body of work when seen together.