…that took a while.
Since it was not possible to reproduce the talk I did while presenting it, I tried to recreate the same train of thought. sorry for the late posting, people!
Update: I uploaded several versions of the ppt and still can’t make the notes appear on the tab. can anyone help?
Update 2: since I can’t make it work, I’ll copy and past the notes here…
slide 1: Since my talk on the presentation was spontaneous and I cannot reproduce it, I’ve tried to recover (and maybe expand) the train of thought I followed that day, so that this slideshow can still make some sense, a month later.
2: “Re-constructing self within the family: re-building the family album”, by Annina Guyas, is largely based on Annette Kuhn’s work, Family Secrets. She develops a method called memory work, in which people can look back at their albums and describe and contextualise the images – “a self-inquiry through personal artifacts”. I have read the same work myself to see if I could use this method in my practice…
3: …but pictures like this, present in the album, those “official” commemorative pictures show people in specific situations – religious, civic events – that are not relevant to my investigation or to my memory of them. These are standard poses and frames; people had no say in how they wanted to be represented. They don’t look happy or sad, just “registered”. Roland Barthes writes that photographs can actually block memories instead of provoking them.
4: More spontaneous photographs like ths – of my grandparents on the move, taken by my dad, the boy in the previous pic – are more relevant and endearing to me, since they were not staged. And they tell more about my subjects than those older images; but that is the result of my father’s generation access to personal cameras. Technology changed, and so did the way we represent ourselves.
5: Photography is also a way for me to register what I’m going through at the moment. The only way I could go to the hospice visit my grandmother (who was there for around 15 years on account of Alzheimer’s disease) was armed with my dad’s film camera, as old as me. It was a protection, a way to keep a certain distance, while still trying to be present for someone who was not there anymore.
6: But I decided to look at objects.
The objects that remained behind, I collected them as much as I could. They represent a choice, they were bought and used and kept by someone. Those material choices and desires are my physical inheritance.
7: The knitwear and embroidery samples are the ones I cherish most, since they were made by my grandma’s hands. These were her projects and experiments. She raised me as a kid and was a very important model to me.
8: Grandma used to date, put subtitles and archive most of the drawings I made. I used to draw a lot, on the back of old school reports that she would bring home from work.
9: When she was not there… dad used to write the stories I’d tell him. All the drawings were narrative, and as I was learning how to read, I’d add some text to the images.
10: When grandma was declared sick and taken to the hospice, I stopped drawing. It did not make sense anymore. Telling stories, through image and writing, was part of our relationship, and it ended abruptly.
11: Many years later, I decided to create work based on our relationship. I miss her active presence, her restless and energetic body, always occupied with domestic chores and the creative tasks she set for herself.
12: Relationships are complicated, full of conflict, affection and expectations. When I came back to her bedroom and to her personal objects, I wanted to deal with those conflicting emotions….
13: Dealing with the loss of a role model is also about asking myself whether that still fits me.
14: Do I want to be an heir? What choices do I have that she did not? How will I choose from now on?
15: And if my own expectations are too tight and unbearable, I have to rethink them…
16: and find what suits me. Maybe that means leaving a lot behind too.
17: And this is how I felt then… overwhelming confusion.
18, 19, 20: Those feelings are still true. But more calm and resignated, since accepting my own pace…