I have decided to continue with my exploration of time and memory for my third assignment but have been struggling with ideas . The assignment can have a linear or non-linear narrative , but not ‘a day in the life of ‘ unless the theme naturally has one. Mum is aged 90 this year and I wondered about re-creating her life through memories , something David Favrod explored in his series Hikari. I have made some rough notes and jotted down a few ideas , I have also taken some initial photographs. I will do a further post when I have gathered my thoughts together and feel I can present a coherent story.
The three photographers below all explore time and memory and its interesting to see the different conceptual approach each employ.
“Photography is a tool people use to find their surroundings”
Ali Mombasser has lived in the UK since he was eight , a second generation Iranian who left Iran aged two. Despite holding an American passport he considers himself Iranian , his identity deeply rooted to a past he is to young to remember , but one that has been passed on via shared stories and memories.
Afsaneh Box 1
Afsaneh Box 2
Afsaneh Box 3
Images of his childhood home and Aunt Afsaneh playing with a child , his aunt’s unoccupied bed on the morning of her death, bags containing her bedding . Following his maiden aunt’s death, someone who had shared his home and brought him up, he “documented everything” over a six month period , “it became a goodbye piece to her and our home” . What began as an exploration of his childhood home became a final farewell .
Understanding the context makes these images especially poignant. Collecting his aunt’s property following her death in hospital he photographed the plastic bag containing her personal belongings and its contents against a plain red background. The images evoked a personal memory , I remember going to collect a similar plastic bag following my dad’s death , I understand his sorrow , can feel it simply by viewing these images. Her socks , her jeans , her shirt , the static contents of her bag represent all that’s left of someone once vital and alive.
A life story told in reverse going “back to a happier time” , a narrative of his aunt’s life aged 55 to 7. Mombasser’s tribute to a woman whose life was destined to be changed irrevocably by the Iranian Revolution. Time regresses , a life re-told by the images on his aunt’s Oyster card , passport , ID cards , travel documents , and finally her school reports. His aunt becomes more appealing as time slides backwards , a story beginning “with the ugliness” is given the “happy ending” Mombasser feels the account of his aunt’s life deserves.
“Distance and time degrade even the most intimate of relationships. All that we have are memories triggered by a myriad of catalysts. We seek to preserve the essence of these moments , yet when evoked , we are left with mere ghosts of our senses. How can one attempt to hold on to what is inevitably transient”
This is a rather unique body of work combining photography with her personal voicemails dating back to 2005. Her work investigate what triggers memories. She reprocessed original photographs she had taken of the people who had left the voicemails to represent the ephemeral quality of memory. The altered images represent memories that have become nebulous over time.
Her mother’s memories re-told , an investigation into “how subjectivity and perspective affect the retelling of memories” . Roeder images are carefully constructed and composed, all three women wear identical outfits for each scene shot at her mother’s childhood home. The outfits, originally belonging to her mother , become important signifiers of her past as they ” are narratively connected to each referenced moment ” .
Roeder examines how each of them individually perceive her mother’s personal memories and how they subsequently interpret that memory. Roeder herself would have no actual recollection of her mother’s youth , her memories second hand. The body language and pose reveal the inevitable differences between the generations as they consider what they feel about the past.
I like the use of colour which creates a coherence between each set of three photographs , the furnishings and clothing of similar tones.