Family Photo Album

(or when we die, our portraits speak to our living descendants)
For the last few years, my mother has been going through old boxes of photos and creating photo albums specific for me and my sister to physically own. It’s an endeavor she feels is long overdue, especially since most of our photos were captured by my late father and they abruptly stop over 20 years ago, after he transitioned. 

During this process, she has come across hundreds of photos of people, events, and places, unrecognizable to her. And because she understood there’s some value in these items, even if she couldn’t find it, she handed them to me to see if I had any use for them. I was collaging them, gifting them to friends, and like her, trying to create a sentiment, and subsequently a purpose for these artifacts of people, places, and unknown stories.

The journey through memory and its fleeting nature had me contemplating how time is perceived to move in only one direction, as if the past is some sort of concrete, finite place. When in actuality, time is a byproduct of our perception, and the past is both relative and individualized. 

I felt it most strongly when my mother handed me my father’s negatives. And like my mother, I couldn’t discern everything contained in them. In that uncertainty, I came to embrace those empty moments that  followed my efforts to grasp at any feeling. And instead of discarding those artifacts that failed to spark any memories, I attempted to materialize a physical represenation of the search to find something in the gaps. Where do I and my history fit within these artifacts. Can I create a sense of timelessness and comfort, and even nostalgia, from moments I, myself, don’t remember. And can I actively make contemporary images that index my own blurred moment in time. And how can a stranger come to feel like family?  

These images are a mix of prints made from an array of times and places. All the images are made with my father’s camera and span 40 years, in hopes of making something that feels like yesterday and forever.