Over the last couple of weeks I have been redesigning my book Unwelcome Invitation. The original book explored how the viewer and photographer alike intruded on a person’s environment. A conversation between space and possessions with dead pan portraits.
However, remastering the book’s design, I have effectively appropriated it with a new meaning, adding archive photographs from family albums. Now it explores the discussion of how photo albums are gateways to only part of our ancestors lives. They ignore the every day and only would choose to fix ‘happy significant memories’ into albums. Yet, all the images are similar: weddings, birthdays, holidays. There isn’t huge variation.
I coupled imagery of ‘present’ and ‘unnoticed’ parts of every day with archive pieces. The emphasis on empty spaces and gaps in time is echoed with the amount of ‘space’ and less archive. The viewer should not be too absorbed by the ‘vintage’ as the artefact but the statement of how we documented life on film.
A photo album would have more weight than just a family archive if it is paired with audio stories behind some of the images. In a couple of generations time, the images won’t mean a thing.
Would a page of photographs of somebody else’s ancestors make great art on their own? I don’t think so. I am going to email Charlotte Cory to see what her thoughts are on this debate.