Family photographs document reality…or do they? Revisiting these images years later, we often project what we want to remember, whether it really happened that way or not. In this project I have gathered vernacular (anonymous) photographs of family experiences, and by selecting and pairing images in a new context, give new meaning to both the images and the relationships within the frames.
I started my research by taking a closer look at my own family slides. What I found in the neatly arranged metal boxes were scores of pictures from family vacations, birthday parties and playing “dress up”. I soon realized, however, that although I had a strong connection to these images, they were not “good” photographs – making them only interesting to my family and myself. Putting these aside, I wanted to look deeper into the family archives of others. I turned to eBay where I perused thousands of individual slides from the 1950’s-1970’s, acquiring those images, which I found to be emotionally and visually compelling. Pairing these pictures together allows me to be the director of my own Hitchcock movie – selecting scenes which, combined with others, suggest a story line, which is evocative and cinematic.
The most prominent theme in my parings is that of travel. Many of the characters, are women, venturing off on their own, whether it be the desert or the mountains, leaving behind the expectations and responsibilities of what’s happening in the adjacent frame; both physically and emotionally. It’s uncertain, however, if they will ever get to where they are going – or even if they know where that place is.
There is a subversive pleasure in working with other people’s family memories and manipulating their meaning by changing the context in which they are viewed. Ironically, even though I decided not to use my own family slides for this project, in the end, the individuals in these photographs reflect aspects of my own family dynamics – both past and present. Which just goes to show – we are always close to home even when we are far away.