ROSEGALLERY presents REMEMBRANCE, an exhibition centering on photography’s influence upon memory and the notion of family. With work by artists who explore their connections to community and family through the utilization of found imagery, whether sourced through personal photo albums or public archives, the exhibition features works by Melinda Gibson and Thomas Sauvin, Carla Jay Harris and Brenda E. Stevenson, Lebohang Kganye, Kovi Konowiecki, B Neimeth, and Martin Parr, and is curated by Thomas Kollie and Zoe Lemelson. The exhibition will be on view from 8 DECEMBER 2018 until 9 FEBRUARY 2019, with a private reception from five until seven pm on the 8th of December.
Where time moves generations apart, images remain as artifacts of personal histories, existing in family albums and archives until they live again in minds as memories. When remembrance is mediated through photographs, these intimate moments, caught on camera, are often re-imagined and instilled into personal narratives of the present. REMEMBRANCE examines the various ways photographers working with archives explore their personal connections to the past as they expose the meaning of memories embedded in their images.
Johannesburg-based artist Lebohang Kganye deconstructs and recreates her personal family images in her series Reconstruction of a Family, examining the falsity of family history as mediated through photographs and albums. On the notion of constructed ancestral history, Kganye beautifully writes:
“Family history remains a space of contradictions, it is a mixture of truth and fiction. Sometimes we rely on the family photo album as a way to understand what family is meant to be. What we often land up with is a grouping of images that have been constructed, and perhaps do not account at all for the histories and memories that are connected with that album.”
The artist’s black-and-white cut-outs examine the grey zone where the factuality of a photograph and the construction of memory intersect.
In the early 1970s, Martin Parr and Daniel Meadows photographed families in their homes on June Street in Ornsdall, a street whose exteriors were filmed for a famous soap opera of that time. By photographing the interiors and its inhabitants, Parr juxtaposes the media perception of this place with the realities of the working class families that lived within the walls. In Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack, Kovi Konowiecki intersperses his own contemporary photographs with images from his family albums. In partnership with his family photographs, Konowiecki’s photographs of his hometown, Long Beach, transcend the division of time between generations; while the people age, the spaces remain the same, showing the timelessness of place between one generation and the next. LA-based artist B Neimeth photographed the interior of her grandmother’s home in Beverly Hills, FL, focusing upon the photographs and documents that enrich her personal space with the history of her immigrant Jewish experience.
While many artists reach into their own archives to explore their personal and communal history, others source from the archives of others. In Carla Jay Harris’ installation piece Bitter Earth, Harris worked with historian Brenda E. Stevenson to gather images from archives that evoke the broad range of experience for African-American women during the Jim Crow Era. Exploring narratives of black womanhood through archival imagery interwoven into wall paper, Harris highlights vignettes of both hardship and joy into her installation work. While Harris uses found imagery to re-visualize a history less seen, Melinda Gibson and Thomas Sauvin similarly use vernacular photographs to question the hierarchies of remembrance. In their series Lunar Caustic, the artists appropriate found family photographs that were in the process of being extracted for their chemical compounds, and thus forgotten, to stop the erasure of the stories in the images. The resulting photographs use destruction as both a visual evocation and a commentary on the prioritization of imagery and memory.
As memories are often inherited and interpreted through imagery, REMEMBRANCE explores the many ways artists question the influence of photographs in their personal lives and collective histories.