Margo Neely’s “HerStory” is an immersive exhibit comprised of writings and photography from her autobiographical novels Hot Garbage and The Knockout. The books are companion pieces, and together tell two sides of a life experience from entirely different angles. Neely’s words and images are blown up to extremely large scale and displayed throughout a raw space, creating an engrossing visual experience for the viewer.
“HerStory” invites the viewer to literally walk through Neely’s story, a labyrinth of hanging texts and images. The cavernous, unpolished space adds to the experience, allowing the audience to feel like they are engaging with her and her world — a colorful escape from the sterile void that surrounds them.
“HerStory” can be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s home or wherever one may be, as the books are available for reading independently. However, exploring the exhibit in the public space adds a whole new layer to the storytelling.
The audience is free to choose their own path through Neely’s story, taking in each detail and feeling the emotions she conveys through her words and images. Alternatively, they can walk right past her, just as they might walk right past her on the street, experiencing a fleeting moment of connection with her.
The use of large-scale images and text makes HerStory larger than life, drawing the audience into Neely’s world and allowing him or her to experience each vignette in a personal way. By presenting two different perspectives on the same experience, Neely encourages viewers to consider the complexity of individual narratives and the ways in which a single person can simultaneously experience the same event in vastly different ways. By making the private experience of engaging with a text public, the exhibit becomes an examination of social engagement and comfort, as the viewer is confronted with stories and images that evoke a broad range of emotion at literally every turn.
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