This Is Not A Fairytale: A Collaboration with Holly Parotti


In 2013, Holly Parotti and Sonia Farmer collaborated on “This Is Not A Fairytale” for the exhibition “Singlesex” at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

This exhibition of exclusively female Bahamian artists was “an effort to reclaim art history, including women into the discourse,” according to an article written about the exhibition by Erica Wells in which she interviews Director of the NGAB Amanda Coulson:

“The cultural expectations of femininity are being deconstructed and in many works, reconstructed,” says Coulson. “‘SINGLESEX’ broaches the questions: how do females project female identity in their work and how does one define a feminine artwork rather than a masculine artwork? Has there been a transformation in the visibility and practice of female artists in our nation? What does this mean for the landscape of Bahamian art? Even further, what do these numbers mean for the growing and strengthening community of female Bahamian artists?…”

The video project features a poem by Sonia written in response to Parotti’s 2011 photographic exhibition at Popopstudios, “This Is Not a Fairytale”. In an interview with Holly about the exhibition, Sonia observes:

“…Language is also very much part of this body of work as well, for a show to be named “This is Not a Fairytale” itself requires a story. Yet each digital image itself is a story, their titles opening up worlds within each window. Each shot is something the viewer recognizes, for they have already glimpsed and forgotten those fleeting yet vastly emotional moments found in everyday objects that sit quietly in wait for someone to hold their gaze. Parotti does this beautifully, plucking them directly from our everyday and finding their narrative, giving them humanity.

“Language is definitely important in my work. It’s not what you say, but how you say it that is most intriguing to me,” Parotti says. “You can have a title that has absolutely everything to do with an image, but based on the way the words are arranged, it can have absolutely nothing to do with the image too. It’s a part of the process for me. It’s also about communication, and what can get lost in communication if not used correctly.”

The result is a collection of overwhelming poignancy, each petit frame reminding us of the stories of objects we live and interact with daily, yet often take for granted. They hold not only our stories, but also the stories of the objects themselves…”

It led Sonia to write a poem with the same title, and for Holly to combine the two perspectives in a collaborative video.

In 2016 Sonia published the poem as a standalone piece in a letterpress-printed and handbound limited-edition chapbook.

Categories: Exhibition, Reading

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