This section of the course material discusses the use of memories (either our own, or those of others) as a source of inspiration for photographic work. Of course, memories are a source of inspiration for many forms of art – just yesterday I was listening to Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, where he mentions that much of his work is based on his own heavily disguised experiences and memories. Is it possible to not be influenced by our memories? It is whether or not we decide to place them overtly as central themes in a work.
Sharon Boothroyd interviews David Favrod about his work, Hikari, based on his childhood memories of discussions with his grandparents of their experiences during the war (so, post-memory). He says, ‘Somehow, I would say that I borrowed their memories. I use their stories as source of inspiration for my own testimony.’ In the interview, Favrod talks about his practice and how he writes about his ideas and outlines them a sketchbook before taking any photographs. This is perhaps a necessary part of the process when drawing on other people’s memories of events that one has never witnessed oneself – creating the story to then be visually represented through photography.
Boothroyd herself has also created work based on the memories of others. I personal viewed her work They all say please (see blog reference below), which was based upon writing on prayer cards – peoples responses and pleas resulting from memories of their own experiences.
In addition to memories, the role of the written word is explained ‘letters, interviews, documents from archives in libraries or found in a relative’s loft can all provide inspiration for a creative exploration.’ (OCA IAP, p82). The spoken word is suggested as a separate source of inspiration but the examples suggested are concerned with the spoken word recorded as the written word, so I think a fine dividing line.
One my favourite pieces of work in this ilk is Kaylynn Deveney’s The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings. The combination of photographs and Hastings’ handwriting give the work an intimate diaristic feel.
Boothroyd S (2014). Photoparley [blog]. Available from: https://photoparley.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/david-favrod/ [accessed 8.2.17]
Deveney K [website]. The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings. Available from: https://kaylynndeveney.com/the-day-to-day-life-of-albert-hastings/ [accessed 8.2.17]
David Favrod [website] Available from: http://www.davidfavrod.com [accessed 8.2.17]
Fitzgibbon A (2016). Identity and Place [OCA blog]. They all say please – Sharon Boothroyd. Available from: http://identity.fitzgibbonphotography.com/2016/07/10/they-all-say-please-sharon-boothroyd/ [accessed 8.2.17]