Family Stories 2008-2010
My family and Me 2010
Accounts of three generations are told in this book by Vera Warnsing, which is part of her final exam at the Art Academy (ArtEZ AKI) in summer 2011.
On one side of the book, photographs by her father and grandfather merge and recall memories in a very specific way. The other side of the book transmits a subjective view of the artist self and leaves a clue about the sense and sensibility of her time. The common media joining the three generations, are photographic slides.
• one book/ two sides
• 80 pages
• 25x20 cm
Vera Warnsing’s work can be divided into two categories – travel photos and family photos, to use simple classifications. Characteristic to both series, and also to Vera’s approach to photography, is the sensitivity to light and colour, the feeling of coincidence that still implies a logic of its own that is hard to pinpoint, and a slightly surrealistic touch that opens space for interpretation and association.
Travelling alone sharpens the acuteness of senses and perception. The new and the unfamiliar can double the sense of self – you are there, in a given situation, and at the same you observe yourself being there. Vera's travel photos are pictures of momentary recognition of light and colour falling in-sync with one’s emotions, the subjective feeling of time and place to hold on to in one’s memory.
In her family photos, Vera lets the slides of her grandfather’s vacations, some of them from the 50s, overlap with the photos her father made in the 70s during political demonstrations. To play an active role in the visual family history, she sometimes integrates her own body in the picture. To transform herself into a part of vacation landscape is for her a way to communicate with the people in the photographs, and foremost with the picture-making men of her family; a way to participate in the stories of different generations. The slides melt down into one representation, sometimes absurd, dreamy or funny. For the viewer, the ingredients of those literally layered photographs stay dynamic - they keep merging together and falling apart, adding to the story, and to the history.
Slides – do they still exist or do they belong to the past? Since the digital age they are outdated and obsolete. The word dia descends from the Greek and means for example trough but also to divide or apart.
I'm looking through you, where did you go? I thought I knew you...
The opening lines of a Beatles song are crossing my mind. The past always matters today. In every moment there is a personal link to history, which doesn't come with us, but which overcomes us like the song lyrics, which came up spontaneously.
You lent your grandfathers and fathers eyes and looked through their slides, their windows to the world from that time. Slide – according to the dictionary, a photographic positive on transparent material, made for projecting images. That is also a very neat and clear description of how memories can work. On transparent material, images from the past are projected into the present.
But how transparent is the past in those projections?
I'm looking at your projection Dümmersee 1965/me. A woman’s back; your back is the non-transparent projection screen, for a man peeping through a spyglass. Your grandfather spotted him, together with a group of family members, who came along to the Dümmersee 1965. The peeping man had just put a coin into the apparatus, to be able looking into the distance for a few minutes, which the apparatus brought closer by. But what he saw, we can't see it. The past doesn't just reveal itself easily, often you can just let it flash up briefly, bring it closer shortly, then it disappears again.
Your works are constructed dialogues with images, that sometimes understand one another and sometimes don't. The dia, a messenger between here and there, from past to present. I can see a great desire in your work to create a personal story and shaping your own history.
Translation from Dutch