Jake Kimble uses self-portraiture and archival imagery as an autoethnographic tool—as process: processing as practice, processing as material, and processing as self. For Kimble, the body-as-subject becomes a transformative site that subtly reveals symbolic language into the artist’s journey of self-care and self-repair. My Guardian Angel Is Tired is a companion series to Grow Up, an expansive body of work that features peotic text over self-portraits and photographs from Kimble’s personal archive. In this exhibition at Burrard Arts Foundation, the images are in conversation with each other, offering insights into the brutally honest and non-linear retrospectives of healing. The pieces in turn serve as a love letter, an intimate acknowledgment that embraces all the messy and celebratory moments of growing up.
The principal work in My Guardian Angel Is Tired shares its name with the exhibition. It is a collection of five fractured images that, when pieced together, make up a self-portrait of a resting Kimble. The guardian angel here is not that of the biblical sense but rather the auntie who offers you her last cig, the spirit bead that keeps you humble, or the ancestor sighing there he goes again. A deep breath akin to a moment of pause, of restitution, for simply existing yet alone prevailing under colonial rule. This work is a tribute, a remembrance to the moments often reserved for Sunday shame spirals. Playing with a duality of elements, Kimble invokes obvious associations that reveal tender moments but also refuse consumption.
Select images from the Grow Up series accompany My Guardian Angel Is Tired (2023). This is where Kimble thrives, in the gentle but humorous spaces that seem to say tell me how you really feel. In these works, metalic lettering is superimposed over childhood imagery of a young Kimble, or over more recent studio self-portraits—lyrical Jake-isms offering sweet assurances to past and future selves. Kimble’s ability to transcend time while delivering poetic retellings of hard truths makes this series familiar, like an old friend.
Calling My Spirits Back (2023), the final piece in the exhibition, highlights a kind of ceremonial call and response—a returning to the body, a coming home. It is the razzle-dazzle we have come to know in Kimble’s storytelling. It is a full circle moment, celebrating and offering an embrace to a guardian who unconditionally cared for him throughout it all. This guardian, btw, is Jake.
This exhibition is part of the 2023 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibitions Program.