From Carl Gunhouse’s review of Jen Davis’ exhibition “Eleven Years” on Searching for the Light:
There is a super powerful Nan Goldin picture about the relationship between people in abusive relationships, where Goldin is lying in bed looking back in fear at her physically violent boyfriend Brian who is shirtless and sits smoking sitting on the edge of her bed. It took me getting older and seeing the picture a couple thousand times to catch Golden’s picture of Bruce at an earlier, happier time in their relationship on the wall above the bed. And even longer before it occurred to me that in all likelihood the camera is on a tripod at the end of the bed. She is visibly grasping something under the pillow, possible a cable release? So no matter how intimate this picture is, Nan knows exactly when it’s going to be taken, and is on some level playing to the camera. It’s a moment of fiction that conveys a very real thing in her life.
I once accompanied a bunch of community college students on a visit to Jen Davis’s studio. She did an amazing and extremely personal artist talk where she was very candid and open about her fears and insecurities about herself and her body. It was powerful and gave me a greater appreciation for her work. I grew up a stocky kid, and as an adult, I fluctuate between thirty to forty pounds lighter than I was at the end of high school. So I have a certain degree of insecurity about my weight and a little bit of affinity for Davis’s subject matter. The show at ClampArt covers eleven years where, in the arc of the work, Davis loses weight and gains a significant other. The pictures tend to be a window into some very intimate and revealing moments where Davis is always in front of the camera. Weight loss or not, the work seems to strive to portray a well-rounded woman who carried a certain sadness but isn’t defined by her size.