From transportive natural vistas to staged studio tableaux, the enigmatic scenes on view within Delaney Allen’s exhibition Getting Lost at Nationale trace a personal, yet familiar, journey. After experiencing multiple deaths and sorrows, Allen felt isolated within grief. However, inspired by passages from Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, he sought solace from the stasis of his past amidst the unrestrained present of the road.
Upon first glance, Allen’s photographs from this process reflect the indoctrinated spirit of American exploration- Manifest Destiny, Ansel Adams, On the Road. However, prolonged examination reveals a more peculiar symbolism. The magnificent peaks and ethereal skies, alongside his experiments with synthetic light, color, and texture, are haunted by a bodily presence. Everyday rock accumulations and peculiar plant growths assume traces of the human hand while still-lifes of kitschy fabric and sculptural talisman emerge as chaotic altars to bygone loves. While Allen can never return to the specific moments or spirits captured within each image, he appears to learn to accept such loss through the controlled construction of photographic memories. As Solnit explains, “...the art is not one of forgetting but letting go.”
This text was originally published in Delaney Allen: Getting Lost, (Portland, OR: Publication Studio, 2014).