INSIGHTS_01 — if memories could be canned […]

Photographic approaches to memory

Conceptual Projects
Sep 12 · 8 min read

[…] would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.

He Zhiwu, Cop 223. “Chungking express”, 1994

In 1994, Hong Kong based director Wong Kar-wai, created Chungking Express, a film that relates a story based on the “counting down” theme. In this film, mundane objects such as an expired pineapple can become a personal symbol for the characters. Throughout the film, these objects symbolize intimate associations to each person and are directly connected to the emotions that evoque their loved ones.

Human beings have an internal need to retain moments that once represented something important in their lives. To “hold” those memories in some physical form, photography became one of the most relevant methods. In the same way that the characters from Chungking Express needed those mundane objects to remember connections and keep their memories alive; photographers used their own medium, not just as a reminder of a personal moment, but as an opportunity to deepen their inner awareness.

What is Memory made of?

Where does it go?

What does it have to do with images?

With the truth?

With the memory itself? […]

All these questions were on Claudia Iacomino’s mind. Mnemosyne began as an exploration, a reconciliation with herself after her father’s loss. She scanned all his file recovering memories that didn’t belong to her, and interlaced the scannings with what she called collateral photographs, pictures with a therapeutic and cathartic purpose.

The initial inspiration comes from the Atlas Mnemosyne, the last project of the German Jewish historian, Aby Warburg (1866–1929). Along his theoretical work, Warburg favours the idea that Memory is anything but something static that must be transmitted by ceremony, but rather an emotional activator capable of triggering powerful chemical reactions in reality, therefore able to create beauty.

The whole creative process is a research on Memory and historical methodologies aimed at its literal unveiling. Memory doesn’t follow a narrative progression. Is fragmentary, sudden and unexpected. With the combination and juxtaposition of open-images, Claudia Iacomino gives the viewer the opportunity to find a collective story.

Do plain memories exist?

Or do our memories reflect only our own version of the past?

Are they trustworthy?

We cannot be unbiased with memories. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to distinguish if memories from a certain period are the actual version of what we remember and what the others remember as well. We tend to distort reality to protect ourselves from memories. Our own version is actually worse than the ‘real’ itself. We create possibilities of parallel realities by questioning ourselves: if.

IF explores the intersection between memories, origins and identity. The project attempts to deconstruct memory by analysing how it works, by questioning their reality, by trying to encode how we store memories. It all began by digging into one self's memories and questioning “reality”. For Valentina, it became a never-ending mechanism of questioning herself if something happened by one thing or the other was fragmenting her understanding of herself creating parallel and infinitive possibilities of it.

If for every if there are two options, then for every option there is an if

- Valentina Albino

In 2018, Portuguese photographer and curator Ana Vieira de Castro decided to explore the relation between love and memory. Memories Lost in Time and Space began as a documentation of her own emotional memory and how old memories can be replaced by new ones.

The project began on Tinder, where she created an account to ask her matches about their thoughts on true love. Ana’s initial plan was to date and photograph these people in places that had a sentimental value for her, in order to expose and replace those memories. It was on the first date that she decided to make a turn on her initial idea.

Memories Lost in Time and Space is about those changing moments in our lives. Is about feeling anxious. Not knowing what to expect. Making changes when necessary. Is about the process of forgetting strong memories and feelings and finding new ones. During 2019, Ana acquired archival documentation of old letters and postcards from antique stores which she combined with her photographs. Old letters from lovers to lovers about heartbreaks, marriage, being in love or not being able to be together.

Somehow, this combination of memories that once belonged to someone, belong now to the artist and represent who she was in 2019 and what she was searching for.

[…] it was fascinating how our strongest feeling could fit in a letter

- Ana Vieira de Castro

Is it possible to have memories of something you cannot surely say exists?

Can you believe that something exists, without having proof?

Priscilla Pallante grew up listening to the story of the Ciucciuì, a mysterious creature that adults used to scare children to put them to sleep. In general, the stories dealt with this monster kidnapping children who weren’t in bed at night, taking them to his scary nest, from which they couldn’t escape.

To fulfill this visual and acoustic gap, Priscilla began to reconstruct a fragmented memory. Her purpose was to create a new perception of something that doesn’t exist. In order to carry out this investigation, she decided to use scientific research instruments and new technologies such as video surveillance, microphotography, 3d scanning and infrared, among other techniques.

Ciucciuì is a multisensioral investigation, a documentation of a hidden reality that no one ever felt the need to prove to be truthfully. The research doesn’t aim at a specific instance. It is not important to find what you’re looking for, rather than the action of looking itself. Photography becomes another tool for the investigation, but also a cathartic role, which gives form and image to something shapeless and terrifying for all those children that didn’t want to go to bed at night.

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Claudia Iacomino (b. 1986) is an Italian visual artist and photographer based in Naples.

Her work focuses on the appearances and the human system of perception exploring the possible boundaries of visual perception and construction of experience. Even when she explores new media, she does not leave photographic semantics, choosing to exalt the static image as a metaphor for thought.

Claudia holds an MFA in Photography from the Academy of Fine Arts Napoli, where she presented her final dissertation about Analysis of Visual Perception. She also works as a teacher of Visual Communication and Photography, and her work has been exhibited in different institutions around Italy.

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Valentina Albino (b. 1996) is an Italian visual artist based in London, United Kingdom.

In her photographic work, she attempts to create visual metaphors from hidden dynamics and feelings belonging to human nature, by using simple common objects and situations. Her constant research towards unconscious emotions and sensations emerges through the photographs within an intimate frame.

Her previous studies in Psychology deeply influenced her practice and her approach to photography. Similarly or dissimilarly, touching different areas of the self, the photographs bring the audience to mental or physical places of memories.

Valentina is a graduate in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of the Arts London. She developed a concrete interest in designing and bookbinding zines and small publications, also as a method of approach to visual arts. She considers it as an essential stage to develop her photographic ideas.

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Ana Vieira de Castro (b. 1995) is a photographer and curator based in Porto, Portugal. She holds a college degree in Visual Arts and Photography from Escola Superior Artistica do Porto University and also holds a MA in Curatorial Studies from the Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto.

She has been working with photography since 2016. Her work has been published by numerous photography, art and fashion magazines and online platforms. In 2018 and 2019, she worked as in the Photography Direction and Production department at Encontros da Imagem — International Photography and Visual Arts Festival. She has been finalist at Descubrimientos Portfolio Reviews at PhotoEspaña and sponsored by the Portuguese Embassy.

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Priscilla Pallante (b. 1992) is a photographer and visual artist living and working in Rome. Her research focuses on the relation between photography and other disciplines, in order to continuously put under discussion the medium and its limits in the objective reproduction of reality, forcing the medium to create unusual alliances with science, new technologies, sound and installation, in order to bring the photography beyond the photograph itself and to activate synesthetic experiences which can emulate the way we usually experience the world that surrounds us.

Priscilla holds a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Photography at the European Institute of Design from Rome, Italy.

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INSIGHTS is the new initiative by Conceptual Projects that puts the spotlight on artists’ narratives. Launched first on Instagram Guides, this new feature allows everybody to present their projects based on a defined curatorial line.

In Conceptual Projects, we truly believe that collaboration is essential for success and visibility on these days. INSIGHTS was created to bring together photography based projects that explore similar areas of investigation, initiating dialogues between artists and their projects.

Conceptual Projects started in September 2019 as an online platform which showcases and supports emerging photographers from all around the world. Our aim is to give artists the opportunity to share their work through our Instagram account, and create an online archive for them that is available at our website.

Since 2019 we have been publishing a weekly project in our feed. We also share daily stories carefully curated selecting photographs from our hashtag and based on a themed research.

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Images courtesy of:

Claudia Iacomino

Valentina Albino

Ana Vieira de Castro

Priscilla Pallante

You can find us on Instagram and on our website

Text by:

Juan Blasco – Founder & Curator of Conceptual Projects

INSIGHTS_00

Bringing together photography based projects that explore similar areas of investigation

INSIGHTS_00

INSIGHTS is an initiative by Conceptual Projects that puts the spotlight on artists’ narratives, initiating dialogues between artists and their projects

Conceptual Projects

Written by

Online platform supporting emerging photographers

INSIGHTS_00

INSIGHTS is an initiative by Conceptual Projects that puts the spotlight on artists’ narratives, initiating dialogues between artists and their projects