Jessica Bardsley

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yonder (2014)

Southern Land (2014)

A Past of Plank and Nail (2013)

The Blazing World (2013)

Lie Back and Enjoy It (2012)

Anne (2012)

Ryerson and Burnham (2012)

The Art of Catching (2011)

Land of Mourning Calm (2010)

The Commoners (2009)

Oceanography (2008)

A Past of Plank and Nail

6 min, 4:3, color, sound, 16mm on DV, 2013


A Past of Plank and Nail depicts poet Emily Dickinson’s Massachusetts home, now preserved as a museum. Images of household furniture, familial ephemera, Dickinson’s famed white dress, and the house’s worn walls evoke a presence, an audible spectre that still lingers.




The Props assist the House

Until the House is built

And then the Props withdraw

And adequate, erect,

The House support itself

And cease to recollect

The Augur and the Carpenter —

Just such a retrospect

Hath the perfected Life —

A Past of Plank and Nail

And slowness — then the scaffolds drop

Affirming it a Soul


In A Past of Plank and Nail the cold, empty rooms of Emily Dickinson’s homestead in Amherst are shored up as spaces that might enable reparative and therapeutic encounters with another’s anguish. Bardsley’s film draws pleasure from its surroundings and constructs a sensory and visual space that the viewer can occupy. It asks us to see the house as a resource that is at once haunted by Emily’s presence while at the same time available to new inhabitants. --Beth Capper