Leslie Hewitt, Riffs on Real Time (3 of 10), from the series Riffs on Real Time, 2008. Chromogenic color print, 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm). Gift of Anthony Terrana. © Leslie Hewitt
In her films, photographs, sculptures, and site-specific installations, Leslie Hewitt explores how photography provides access to memories of personal experience, frames understanding of the self, and shapes and preserves the collective memory of historical events. Hewitt’s distinctive visual language derives in equal measure from her instincts as an archivist—gathering and sifting through the documents—and her formal concerns, rooted in twentieth-century film theory and sculptural practice and in the longer history of still-life painting.
In Riffs on Real Time, a series of ten color photographs, Hewitt sets up a dynamic between personal iconography and widely circulated images from newspapers and magazines. She reports that she was influenced by the way her grandmother arranged family photos in albums. Riffs on Real Time (3 of 10) features a backyard snapshot of an African-American man centered on top of a page showing an image of broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite framed by the rounded edges of an old-fashioned television. A map of South America is also visible, its lines and shapes extending beyond the frame. Hewitt has arranged and photographed this construction on a wooden floor that serves as a literal ground for the composition. Here, different registers of time are staged in a visual language that speaks to the complex and simultaneous formation of both personal memory and collective history.
The series Riffs on Real Time was shown in its entirety for the first time at the ICA/Boston in 2011. The acquisition of Riffs on Real Time (3 of 10) thus marks the ICA’s exhibition history while enriching the museum’s strong collection of photography, joining works by Anne Collier and Sara VanDerBeek.