Pictura Gallery

Melissa Spitz

July 3, 2019

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Melissa Spitz | Nothing to Worry About

Melissa Spitz’s ongoing project, Nothing to Worry About’, pulled me in from the moment I saw it. Spitz photographs her mother, who struggles with lifelong mental illness and addiction. When I look at this project, what I see is a search — Spitz trying to grasp at ephemeral wisps her mother through a fog of pain, substance abuse and instability. It’s as if Melissa the child is searching for her mother who is stuck in the Upside Down. The Upside Down is the dark, flip side of reality, where everything manifests as the negative version of itself. I imagine Melissa entering this dark universe to battle it’s gravitational pull on her mother.

Given the intensely personal nature of her work, Instagram is a surprisingly fitting vehicle for her project. Scrolling through Spitz’s feed feels like entering into her emotional experience. Her images flit between the present, the recent past and mementos from her childhood. Old family photographs are mixed in with her current work, as if Spitz is trying to mine some important clue from her past to make sense of the present. As we follow along with the text that accompanies the images, we experience the same hope that Spitz must feel when things are momentarily on an upward swing. And we sense the intense disappointment that she must feel when things crash.

The splitting of single images into grids feels emotionally relevant to her work. It’s as if by doing this, Spitz is able to simultaneously hold a single memory and break it down into smaller parts that can be compartmentalized. Take an image of Spitz’s mother is lying in bed — if we only look at the top right image in the grid, we see a lamp with a bright bouquet of flowers. This detail by itself could be peaceful. Move down a square — Afternoon light creates a landscape of color and texture on the paisley bedspread. Beautiful on it’s own. But when you move to the center top square in the grid, you see her mother fast asleep in the midday light, burrowed under blankets as if she is hiding. This detail feels harder to hold.

- Mia

See more of the work here.

See the work via Instagram.

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