Nancy VanNoppen's Framing Devices series hinges on an interest in the frame and the role it plays as a mediating device between the viewer and a work of art. Not just a mere boundary, whose primary purpose is to limit or divide, a frame’s main purpose is to enclose or support. In doing so, it takes on a significance of its own (stemming both from its materiality and its function), as an individual entity belonging to neither the inside space (the space of the framed work, or ‘art space’) nor the outside space (the ‘non-art’, or environmental, space beyond the frame). VanNoppen's manipulation of the framing device is an attempt to explore and question the ways in which someone may distinguish his or her own space from that of the work they are viewing.
How does the way a frame is constructed and situated in an exhibition space impact the way a viewer experiences and defines a work of art? As a device traditionally used to divide art from viewing or environmental space, what happens when the frame intentionally blurs those lines or fails to clearly distinguish them? When the frame is configured in a way that allows outside (non-art) space to bleed into the presumed space of the artwork, how does one determine where the space of the artwork ends? Such a situation makes it hard to decidedly say what exactly the artwork being experienced is. This notion can be extended beyond the framing devices of individual artworks (traditional frames, pedestals, display cases, etc.) and applied to the larger frames that help to define the art-viewing space, such as the white box, gallery, or museum. These devices create a further layer of framing that distinguishes the space of the art-experience from the outside space of daily life.
How do framing devices alter the way one defines art and it’s relation to oneself? As beings who experience everything through an individual and subjective mental frame, we know there are inevitable limitations, and simultaneous possibilities, with any frame. The knowledge that something is subjective, while it involves acknowledging the limitations of that thing, also includes the realization that it is not absolute, and thus open to possibilities when situated beyond the subjective frame. The frame calls to question our own perceptions and destabilizes the notion of reality as absolute or conclusive.
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Nancy VanNoppen's ongoing photography series, NVN Memoryscapes, uses a variety of photographic mediums from past and present to create imagined landscapes that capture the essence of a beloved place.