“I looked for the ones that weren’t perfect—that weren’t necessarily flattering,” says 24-year-old New York-based artist Garrett Pruter of the family photographs he pulled from junk stores, flea markets, and estate sales, then sliced, scratched, and otherwise altered for his first solo show, “Mixed Signals,” which opens tonight at Charles Bank Gallery. “They seemed like an accurate representation of something that was on the verge of being forgotten,” he explains. “The show revolves around themes of memory and loss, and the genesis of a photo being created and deteriorating through its lifespan.”
Pruter’s exhibition includes a host of these black-and-white, often-discolored found family photos, shown alongside three large-scale, monochromatic mosaics. One is made from cut-up fashion magazines (“I took the darkest parts of each image and pieced them together so that it’s essentially a composition of void and shadow”); a second taken from skin-toned pieces of old Playboys from the ’50s through the ’90s (“It’s like a 40-year study on human sexuality”); and a third is crafted from bits of deteriorating maps of Los Angeles (“It looks like an aerial shot of the city—a shattered, disintegrating geography”). Underscoring the fleeting nature of reminiscences, 35-mm projector will play a sequence of fragmented images against the wall.