This modest display of the artist’s personal photographs of people, campsites, and dogs taken during her fifteen-year spell as a traveller and squatter and recently made up into four framed assemblies hardly makes for an exhibition. The tableaux, sparsely annotated in Petersen’s hand, sketch stories of free love, free movement, and free association.
But constrained by this gallery, they are merely vehicles for nostalgia. And that’s a pity because Petersen’s work of ‘giving voice to underrepresented communities’, as curatorial fashion today would have it, has roots in a life of both joy and struggle that social practice rarely succeeds in engaging. To go all out on it is no answer, either: Petersen’s website has pictures of this critic examining her much larger installation in 2019.
Such is the lot of political alternatives. Close up, Petersen’s innocents today conjure ideas of redneck resistance. At scale, of state-marketed utopia. The middle ground is envy.