Carol Golemboski  

Carol Golemboski has been working on a photographic series named after the nineteenth-century concept of "Psychometry." Coined by an American psychologist who claimed that it could be used by mediums to ascertain the "soul" of things, the practice is the same as used in certain crime investigations. In her artistic, almost performative recreations, Golemboski collects old objects from flea markets and antiques stores and then invents new environments and narratives for them. Her beautifully crafted prints are highly manipulated as well, creating literal and symbolic layers of meaning and memory. Ethereal markings also suggest spirit and slate writing almost as if another presence is attempting to come through to "the other side" with Golemboski acting as medium. Her use of photograms, fingerprints, and etchings underscore the postmodern idea of the trace and provides an artistic foil to the spirit photographs. This darkroom magic, done the "old fashioned" way, is intended to cut to the core of photographic truth.

Golemboski's roots are distinctly High Victorian and Gothic. Moreover, individual pieces are often inspired by specific works of literature—from Oscar Wilde's short story, "Lord Arthur Saville's Crime" to Shirley Jackson's novella "The Haunting of Hill House." Holding a MFA from Virginia Commonwealth and an undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication studies, Golemboski is an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Colorado at Denver. Represented locally by Robert Klein Gallery, she has received numerous fellowships and grants and has exhibited at Light Work, Visual Studies Workshop, and the Houston Center of Photography.

Carol Golemboski, Cheiromancy (Palm Reading), from the Psychometry series, 2003, toned gelatin silver print, 17 1/2 x 17 ½ inches, Courtesy of Robert Klein Gallery

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Artist Statement

"Psychometry" is a series of photographs exploring issues relating to anxiety, loss, and existential doubt. The term refers to the pseudo-science of "object reading," a purported psychic ability to divine the history of objects through paranormal channels. Like amateur psychometrists, viewers are invited to interpret arrangements of tarnished and decrepit items, depending on the talismanic powers inherent in the remains of human presence. The success of the image relies upon the viewer's expectation of truth in photography, expanding upon age-old darkroom "trickery" to suspend belief between fact and fantasy.

A smaller group of photographs within the series specifically addresses the psychology of fortune telling. Through complex photographic manipulation, these images confront the desperate human desire to know the unknowable. Illegible text and arbitrary predictions in pictures with themes such as palm reading, tea leaf reading, and numerology, force the viewer to consider man's insatiable need to anticipate his own fate.

The concept behind each picture dictates its darkroom manipulation, sometimes requiring research and revisions that last days, weeks or months. Combining photography with drawing, seamlessly incorporating relevant photograms, adding pertinent borrowed text, and scratching the emulsion of the negative, creates images where horror, history, and psychology occupy the same imaginative locale.

Copyright © 2002, Photographic Resource Center, Inc.