One of the main themes in Lisa Holden's digital photoworks is identity. Growing up in the North of England as an adopted child, (her birth parents are South African and Austrian) knowing very little about her birth family and roots left her with many unanswered questions.
Her explorations of identity began by looking at the face as a mask--as a surface that can be changed and adapted at will. Her interpretations of the self, and identity, as malleable and ever changing, have become anchored in a blend of imagery from classical art, early photography and consumer culture.
Combining very different types of imagery, as well as analogue and digital techniques, Holden attempts to unite personal and group history, the body and nature, knowing and unknowing. Her works challenge viewers with a barrage of questions. Is some kind of memory imprinted in our DNA? Are our bodies roadmaps of where we came from and where we are going? And how do we reach that knowledge?
Always pushing the boundaries of her imagery, two years ago, Holden turned her attention to landscape as a conscious man-made creation and with that, as an extension of human identity. Taking raw footage of locations where she has lived, or places with which she has some kind of connection, Holden constructs images out of multiple layers building in ambiguity; which in turn creates a space into which the viewer can insert his or herself and his/her own narrative. Holden works with images of the natural world in the same way she approaches the human figure--as an ensemble of attitudes, actions and choices. She attempts to invest the images with a sense of triumph--a reshaping and reclaiming of identity. Holden's compositions, landscapes both with and without the human figure, also act as psychological spaces, as doorways for reflection. In this sense, they link past and present, hinting at possible futures.
Holden's landscapes are a materialization of the layers of identity, of identity and memory. They are also explorations of how we perceive ourselves, our environment, our connections and disconnections with our inner and outer lives, and with the world around us.
Always using technology intuitively and exposing its flaws and limitations, Holden's final images bear traces of the construction process. A close inspection of the image discloses a surface that is fragmented and torn; layers slot together awkwardly, and digital artefacts fray the edges of the composition. The image-making process is immediate yet painstaking; a great deal of work is discarded as she constantly tries to clarify the composition, with work that has to be meaningful, each successive piece more fluent than the one before.