With Bottom of the Lake, Christian Patterson takes an allusive view of his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
The work revolves around the 1973 Fond du Lac Telephone Directory, published shortly after the artist’s birth. Patterson revisited and photographed places listed in the book and eventually placed his images inside his reproduction of the directory.
In addition, he has reactivated the directory with an interactive object, the Fond du Lac Telephone. It rings and calls you, and it also dials, so you can call Fond du Lac. It is accompanied by a list of people and places that can be called by dialing the phone. There are over 150 experiences contained within it, including field audio recordings, archival audio, and scripted and improvised performances by Patterson and a cast of friends, fellow artists and actors.
The telephone directory is an exhaustive, factual document of a specific place and time, while Patterson’s work is a selective, subjective document of the same place in an undefined, other time. He also considers the telephone a photographic object – in the eyes and ears of others, an “other” Fond du Lac is imagined and created, through images of their own mental making, called forth by the sounds they hear.
By combining and mixing different documentary forms and image types, his work challenges and questions the very nature of photography, truth, memory and representation.
Bottom of the Lake will be published by Walther König in Fall 2015.