Exhibition Visit 11/04/19
Anthony Prothero’s latest body of work “Ipseity” is a “visual investigation into memory, imagination and the family album”. The exhibition and accompanying book were a product of the artists masters study at Falmouth University. The exhibition comprised of a series of large scale images from various sections of the book alongside a video piece and an audio installation. Imagery ranged from still life set ups of the artists grandmothers belongings, collected and curated images of family trips abroad, scanned and distorted family portraits. The video installation detailed silent super 8 footage of a family wedding and my personal highlight of the exhibition an audio piece which presented a discussion between the artist and his grandmother about a particular image in the exhibition.
Much has been said on the use of personal/ family archives for project material, during my own undergraduate degree I too delved into my own family archive and I still find it an interesting topic, even when I have no relation to those depicted. I think this is due to work of this nature forcing me to consider the relationship I have with my own family archive, so those images that exist from my own childhood and before. Also following the birth of my daughter and my imminent second child I consider the ways I might continue building my own personal collection. How should I record family life? Which means are most effective in the modern technological age? Do I even record enough of family activity?
Most would argue that it’s never been easier for us to capture our experiences with the advent of smart phone technology, with most of the worlds population having access to a camera in their pocket but I feel that it’s what we do with those images that is most important. Is uploading our lives to countless digital social media albums any different to stocking photo albums on shelves in our homes only for both to be ignored for most of the time that follows the event. During this exhibition I pondered the question “I wonder how many times this wedding video had been viewed before being put on a loop in a gallery context?”
A record of our lives is important and interesting even if only in our own family circles, what Anthony has done here is succeeding in making his own personal family artefacts interesting whilst allowing us as viewers to question the importance of our own. The other elements of the exhibition, namely the sound and video pieces have made me question photography’s effectiveness as a tool to record our personal memories. Is it just one of many tools that when used together can create a more meaningful reflection of our lives? Ultimately we all crave to be remembered when our lives are over. Looking at the strangers actions, appearances, belongings here brings to mind the transient nature of our experiences and lives, as soon as they have happened they are gone much like the capturing of an image. Can photographs or possessions really tell us anything about those pictured or are they merely vessels for those left looking to reflect on a life once known? In the end it is really all just “stuff”, providing a more public context would surely strike chords for those with a personal connection to the images on show. For the rest of us it highlights an urgency to ensure that our own collections are of interest to our own family after we are gone and not just adding to an already huge pile of belongings to sort through.
All images courtesy of the artist.