The core of “I DO, I DO” is a collection of 100 vintage nuptial cabinet cards ranging from ca. 1885-1900, all produced by studios in Wisconsin; a geographic specificity that remains a mystery and, perhaps beyond coincidence, is true of most American images of this variety. These portraits, made otherworldly under the veneer of time, exist forever frozen on the threshold between the private stories they conceal and the rigid conventions of the genre. Like actors against a backdrop, these anonymous posing couples heighten both the contractual nature of a relationship recognized by law or religion and the performative premise of wedlock.
Also included is a collection of 115 wedding cake toppers; emblematic bride and groom figurines amassed for over 40 years and spanning the period between 1920 and 1960. These candidly literal depictions of marital bliss (each pair essentially one piece of miniature sculpture) survived, as powerful symbols do, their ephemeral tiered kingdoms and the mortality of their real counterparts. Through the concurrence and visual dialogue of its singular component parts, this exhibition considers notions of genealogy and ritual as connected to memory-making, irony, and kitsch under a contemporary spotlight that will summon believers and skeptics alike.