Private Mythologies for A-Journal

text published for A-Journal: Art and Planning in Public Sphere


The process of my work is mainly concerned with the observation and categorization of pre-existing images or objects: amateur photographs, found footage, printed matter and so on.

To start from a found object, with apparently no importance, and to reconsider it within a larger visual research on image and history.

At the core of the work lies the attempt to approach a document as an evidence, or as witness of a disappeared reality.

Memory is a fundamental area of research in my work, especially in relationship with the concept of disappearance: when we remember an event, our brain produces mnemonic images that are only small traces of disappeared reality and time.

In psychology, memory is the ability of an organism to store, retain and later retrieve information. Memory is a mental process related to several factors both cognitive and emotional, as a result of a highly active process and not just an automatic or incidental process. This process chart a course of reconstruction and linking of tracks, rather than as a simple storage in a static mental space.

In the process of the construction of memory there are three basic stages:

Recording / Repetition / Reproduction.

Similarly, these three phases also suggest the material about which an archive is made of.

As it is impossible to remember all, the archive, as well as mnemonic function acts by selecting what is, or seems essential.

The existence of the archive therefore presupposes that there is something to remember, but at the same time also something to forget, thus leaving a huge amount of data.

But who or what decides what needs to be remembered and what is forgotten?

How can be described memory and in how many ways?

How can be described a forgetfulness?

How can be saved an event, a memory or a track from forgetfulness?

One aspect of memory that really interests me is therefore its selection process, or rather how our dreams, our hopes and our ideas influence our memories and shared memories, and vice versa.

Photography as a structure of linguistic depiction, has in common with the archive his authority to represent the real through an apparent neutrality, and both re-enact the world as a statement of himself, as historical evidence, as document.

But the act of remember, as well as photography is first of all an act of erasing.

So – like when shooting photographs then we eliminate all of reality that is outside the field of lens – the act of remember a particular event, it means remove everything else (is impossible to remember everything, but then what to remember and what to forget?). This process is directly related to our will, there is nothing neutral in the act of remember as much as nothing neutral in the act of photograph or re-photograph.

The archive, as well as memory and photography – that are being built with similar processes between them – can never be a neutral recording of facts and events.

The archive is the territory of documents and images builded by appropriation and selection, which are acts of power, and therefore becomes a criticality, a gray area where data – recorded or not – became area of power and conflict and identitiary factor is essential.

The archives are developed in the nineteenth century with the establishment of modern states and immediately take a strong political value. Through the archives, such as the museums, schools and prisons or hospitals, the modern state asserts and  and make acceptable is proper identity. Even their architectures are similar.

But what if the data collected in an archive are private, anonymous and seemingly insignificant?

To tell anonymous histories doomed to oblivion, to understand how these histories can be compared with the official histories, what kind of exchange between individual and collective memories.

To read clues, even if uncertain, as if they were evidence of a hidden reality; even though apparently in front of a dirty or partial vision; collecting these clues and putting them in relation to each other, even through failures and gaps, despite everything.

The archive is the focal point of the whole question. The archive, not as a place where memory is stored, but as the place for open discussion on memory, the place where history live in permanent transformation.

(text published for A-Journal: Art and Planning in Public Sphere, nov. 12th 2013)

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