Friday, January 07, 2005

"Burnversions" - This Summer Things Are Really Going to Heat Up!


“Burnversions” - “Rough Edge Photography” by James W. Bailey

Ever been burned by someone? Here’s your chance to get it out of your system!

James W. Bailey
(WPA/Corcoran Artist Directory – Page 370)
Force Majeure Studios
11196 Silentwood Lane
Reston, VA 20191
Ph: 703-476-1474
Cell: 504-669-8650
Artist web site:
Burnversions web site:

(Reston, Va) Have you ever been lied to by a close friend, or cheated on by your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend? How about back-stabbed by a relative or deceived by a child? Been fired from a job by your boss for no reason or financially screwed over by a business associate?

In other words, have you ever been burned? If you have, and haven’t we all, what version of a burn did you suffer? How angry did it make you? Are you over it yet? If not, your summer is about to really heat up at a super-hot art exhibit in Reston.

During the month of August, “Burnversions”, a solo exhibition of “Rough Edge Photography” by the experimental Mississippi photographer, and Reston resident, James W. Bailey, will be on exhibit at Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods in Reston, Virginia.

If you’re still steaming over being burned and want to participate in a unique art exhibit designed to help feel your pain and ease your emotional overload, you will not want to miss this unique cutting-edge exhibition.

“ ‘Burnversions’ is conceived to allow the audience to participate in a very personal way in exploring the residue of severed relationships that have melted down after existing beyond their natural life cycle,” says Bailey.

What happens when the relationships between a person and his friends, family, political ideology or religious beliefs catch on fire and disintegrate? What do we become when the most intimate connections in our life go up in smoke? And more importantly, is it really possible for us to move beyond the emotional trauma of being burned by someone we trust or who is in a position of power over us?

‘Burnversions’ seeks to examine these severed emotional connections and to simultaneously offer a point of healing and reconciliation for the emotionally wounded members of the audience who want to participate in the ‘Burnversions’ Photo Collage portion of the exhibit.”

Bailey describes “Burnversions” as a Littoral Art Project that is designed to actively involve the audience in a participatory way in the exhibition: “This exhibition will feature a unique photo collage work of art that will be created from submissions of original photographs by participants. I am encouraging people to send me one photograph of a person who has ‘burned’ them. I’m asking the participants to write on the back of the photograph what this person did to them - and, please, no names of any of the parties!

These original photographs will be defaced, burned, cut and scratched beyond recognition, diced up and rearranged. Nobody will be able to identify anyone in any of the photos. As a matter of fact, the photographs will be so manipulated in a puzzle like fashion that it will be impossible for me to tell what individual parts match together to form one of the original images.

The photographs will be so entirely defaced that even the people who gave them to me will not be able to identify them. These manipulated images will be re-contextualized into an original work of photo collage art that will be mounted behind glass.

After the exhibition closes, the ‘Burnverions’ photo collage work of art will be taken to New Orleans and burned by a Hoodoo priest as part of a ritual of spiritual healing. To complete the project, I will be scattering the ashes from the incinerated photo collage across the Mississippi River in New Orleans on November 1- All Saints Day.

The ‘Burnversions’ Photo Collage portion of the exhibition is designed to help the emotionally wounded let go of the memories of those who have hurt them. These ashes to ash memories will float down the Great River of Life to the Gulf of Mexico; and from there, across the planet, and hopefully, out of the mind and memories of those who have been harmed who contributed their photo to the project.”

Bailey explains his Littoral Art philosophy for his exhibition: “Usually, an artist hangs work on a wall, invites friends and family to come to an opening reception, enjoys the ego building experience of a few celebratory pats on the back and everyone goes home. I wanted to create with ‘Burnversions’ a deeper and more meaningful relationship between the exhibit and the people who will come to see it.

Littoral Art is an art practice coined by the artist, Bruce Barber. Basically, the belief is that art has the power liberate the human spirit and to effect deep change in society. Art is frequently caught up in the detached experience of people looking at objects in a museum or gallery.

‘Burnversions’ offers an opportunity for people to actually contribute to the exhibition by submitting their own personal photographs. The idea for burning them as a collection at the end of the exhibition and scattering them to the winds over the Mississippi River is symbolic of letting go of emotional baggage.

New Orleans is my second home and a mystical place that understands the spiritual symbolism of this act. It’s all about letting go…and having someone to help you do that.”


The featured element of “Burnversions” will be Bailey’s critically acclaimed photographs. Bailey’s experimental “Rough Edge Photography” technique involves exploring the “death of chemically developed negatives and prints” through the use of found 35mm source cameras he purchases in thrift stores.

His process incorporates the violent manipulation of unexposed film, developed negatives and prints. Undeveloped film may be subjected to intense heat or pin pricks through the film canister. Developed negatives are burned, scratched, slashed or cut, as are the prints. In some cases, the original negative is melted onto the final print. The found camera that is used to shoot a particular narrative series of photographs is frequently smashed upon completion of the series.

The subjection of Bailey’s film negatives and prints to his process, combined with the destruction of the source camera, results in a unique image that can not be duplicated: each “Rough Edge Photography” piece is an original work of art. The artist does not produce prints or authorized reproductions of his images.


Born in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1959, Bailey is a self-taught artist/photographer and an experimental imagist writer. His art focus also includes Littoral Art projects that explore the fleeting moments of cross-cultural communicative intersections; film projects, including the short film, Talking Smack; “Wind Painting”, a unique naturalistic art practice inspired by the vanishing Southern African-American cultural tradition of the Bottle Tree; and street photography centered on the hidden cultural edges of inner city New Orleans life.

Bailey’s experimental imagist literary works include, The Black Velvet Smash and the Missing Gospel of William S. Burroughs, Cold Dark Matters, Eastern 304, Killing Film Noir, and, two books of poetry, The Despised American Edition and Southern Standard Time, all published by Force Majeure Press. He has also written a full-length feature film screenplay, The Cold, a crime drama based on a true story set in New Orleans, which is currently in pre-production development.

“Burnversions” - A solo exhibition of the “Rough Edge Photography” by experimental photographer, James W. Bailey, on exhibit at the Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods in Reston, Virginia.

Experimental Mississippi artist, and Reston resident, James W. Bailey, presents a collection of his “Rough Edge Photography” that explores the residue of severed relationships. Bailey’s unique photographic style incorporates the violent scratching, slashing and burning of his prints and negatives. This exhibition will also feature a unique work of photo collage art created from original photographs submitted by individuals who have been “burned” by others.

Exhibition will run from August 1 - 30. Exhibit is free and open to the public.

Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods 2310 Colt Necks Road, Reston, Virginia. For directions, see the Reston Community Center’s web site at

If you would like to participate in the “Burnversions” Photo Collage, simply mail your original photo to James W. Bailey, Force Majeure Studios, 11196 Silentwood Lane, Reston, Virginia 20191. Do not include any names, or any other identifying marks, on the front or back of the photograph. You are encouraged to briefly describe on the back of the photo what the person did to you. By mailing the original photograph to the artist you are agreeing to give it to the artist for the purpose of it being used to create an original work of photo collage art that will be burned and destroyed.

“Burnversions” WEB SITE:


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