“The Erasure… Or…?”
Somewhere along the lines of experimentation I decided that I didn’t like the way that the project was progressing. The Erasure is something that I will no doubt go back to, however, I feel like I need to both broaden and reduce the scale of it simultaneously.
So where does that leave me?
I believe that in order to do The Erasure justice, and to truly comprehend the effects of land displacement, I need to take a step back and look at the wider picture of my heritage, family background, and family album on the whole. I am using it as a tool without necessarily first understanding what it contains and how it can be used as a tool. This is where the Creative Project become a new project entirely – or at least a different branch of the project.
From here I began looking at the theory of family albums. Jo Spence and the Social Album in particular, which is demonstrated through her 1979 work Beyond the Family Album. (See link for details)
The Social Album presents the idea that there is a large amount being screened out of domestic photography and the family album. Families are indoctrinated with the idea that they must only present a positive impression of their life and the negative aspects cannot be displayed or documented. In opposition to this, the Social Album celebrates all aspects of family life and therefore can be used as a genealogical tool to understand the lives as lived of those before us.
In the shifting direction of the project, I therefore decided to create a response to the Social Album using my own family album. I have decided to use four frames, each incorporating a different theme of the Social Album. Cragside is the starting point, as this was the starting point of the initial project. It presents what an idyllic family life appeared to be, as this is the impression Cragside has always given me. Over the last 23 years I have romanticised it to the extent that I have created my own Domestic Myth. However, the frame speaks of displacement, and other negative aspects of family life that in my romanticised vision, I did not usually associate with Cragside. This includes untimely deaths, miscarriages, unwed mothers (in the 1930s shock horror) and hidden adoptions. The following 3 frames deal with adultery & divorce, breakdown of family ties, and illness & death. The images used are symbolic of the themes and do not depict them explicitly, as my family album mirrors the traditional albums that do not show negative aspects of family life.
I aim to approach this as an investigation: is it possible to create a full Social Album and not exclude negative aspects that one would otherwise hide? Can the family album be used as a genealogical tool if it does not give an accurate overview of the family life? Can a Social Album (or a reverse Social Album) be read within the family album through absences and negations? People disappear from the albums – why is this? Can a narrative be uncovered through learning how to read beneath the surface of each image and the album as a collective?
Next: experimentation. I have ordered a blow torch and plan on experimenting with how burning can be included in the work.