1. Thinking ahead to Assignment 2

 

Autumn is my favourite season – the changing colour of the leaves adding some warmth to early morning mist,  the crackle the leaves make under my feet once the sun begins to heat up the cooler days a little.  The woods are darker though, with long shadows and the carpets of leaves hide the tangled network of roots waiting to trip the unwary. Often best to look down rather than around, especially with my current eyesight problem – yet another sign of ageing that continually reminds me that time is passing.

There’s something about looking down as I’m walking, though, that takes me into my inward eyes, those eyes that see into the past as well as the present and future. I lost my roots somehow when my parents died – thirty years ago this year but it often seems like only yesterday.  I was ‘orphaned’ suddenly and consecutively, within six weeks, and still feel angry and bereft. I remember thinking, “But, I haven’t finished with them yet!” A strange thing to say but I knew what I meant.

Assignment 2 rounds off reading and exercises on the archive and the found image in digital culture – a culture that my parents never got the chance to experience. Knowing them, I think they would have relished it. My intention at the moment is to create a work that uses my archive of photographs and letters.  I’ve been approaching this slowly, mainly because my problem with seeing has affected my concentration and also confidence but additionally I’ve been aware that I’ve been circling around the project.  Indeed, I’ve been circling around the idea at least since September 2011 when I specifically went back to Sheffield and Derbyshire to ‘re-connect’; to reconnect with those places and times that were instrumental in informing my sense of myself and my personal identity.

Of course, I have been absorbed in the reading about archives and seeing how artists have responded to them.  I have to acknowledge though that I’ve experienced some fears around working with personal, historical material. Do I really want to test my memory; re-experience grief of what’s lost and let go; accept that the past doesn’t exist except in my memory. Writing this now I realise the weight of all that accumulation and that it’s been important for me to approach the project slowly and cautiously. I’m nearly ready now though.

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14 comments

  1. I have read something lately about thinking about traces (archives are traces) not as inscribed in the past, but in how they are inscribed in the present, acknowledging their changing nature, their present nature.

    I thought I could share this with you after reading your post:

    “Let’s define traces as the imprints left by a being, an event, an emotion, or an idea (Dirié and Theriault, 2013, p.59): Hadjithomas and Joreige do not think of traces “as vestiges of what has been, but as existing in their own right: living beings that evolve” (Dirié and Theriault, 2013, p.61). Traces are not inert. Their projects are often concerned with creating condition revealing the life of traces, “the dynamics that transform them, and in transforming them affect human beings, individual and collective relationships, and representations. It is not that the past “does not pass” in the sense that it remains present, like a stone in a shoe. It passes, and even it never finishes passing, going deeper, being transformed, metabolizing what surrounds it” (Dirié and Theriault, 2013, p.61). “

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    1. Powerful words and thanks for quoting them. I still have dreams that my parents are alive and I’m talking with them and have to shake myself awake to realise anew that it isn’t so. This time of year is, of course, a good time to to interact with them; to remember them.

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  2. You’ve got great ideas, Catherine & I wish you well in getting all your thoughts together. I have no idea what happened to all our family albums – they just disappeared when Dad died in 1999. Stephanie’s quotation is very apt regarding relationships. It reminds me of Tim Ingold’s use of the line metaphor in relation to knots and links – the thread / string never forgets the knot it was tied in – it has fixed in it the memory of that knot through its shape which will never be the same again. Good luck with the assignment.

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  3. You know better than I about holding onto or releasing memories, but I’m not sure it is in our power – the conscious mind – to do either, even if we had the will. Releasing it (or any part of it) disturbs our identity which is largely governed by our memory?

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    1. There are ways of blocking memories so they recede from the forefront of one’s mind and become less painful/intrusive. I agree identity is very linked with memory plus the environment plays a large part as well. It’s an immense topic of which I only know a little.

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  4. You communicate your thoughts so clearly and smoothly that it’s a pleasure to read it. Recalling your memories it’s a really good idea and can connote a strong emotional response in a spectator; at least you did it to me and I haven’t seen any picture yet. I’m looking forward to following your progress and seeing your images. Good luck and take care of yourself.

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