Survival Kit Wonders “Who is Deborah Ellen Shore?”

Exploring the former Westinghouse Electric Building on the eastside of Cleveland, artist Dave Desimone stumbles upon hundreds of Kodak slides scattered across the floor among broken computers and tires. These photographs were not here before. Gathering them, he assumes they are images related to the site. He takes them home and scrutinizes, at first  simply attracted to their composition.

They are in fact, remarkably out of place: family vacation photographs taken by a Mrs. Debbie Ellen Shore, carefully catalogued by hand between 1960 and 1965. Why were they discarded in this obtuse location? Why are these memories,  painstakingly arranged, haphazardly scattered among trash in an abandoned building? Who is Deborah Ellen Shore?

Desimone gathers a roster of artist and friends who together navigate these questions by re-imagining and fabricating  images, scenes, and literature surrounding Debbie Ellen, her family, and fragments of her life based on these found  snapshots. Together the artists fashion an exhibition that constructs an informed yet fictional narrative. The end display  becomes a cross between art exhibit, theater set, and hall of artifacts that is simultaneously familiar and strange. Searching for the elusive meaning surrounding our personal history, mortality, and legacy, the looming question behind “Who is Deborah Ellen Shore?” is actually, “will anyone care what we leave behind?”

Who Is Deborah Ellen Shore?

September 21–October 19