My dad died in autumn 2010. He had stage IV lung cancer. „A higher one does not exist”, said the doctor. I asked how much time… I couldn’t finish, but he guessed. Statistically about six months. He didn’t even live four.
I don’t have pictures of him. I mean I don’t have pictures that I’d have liked to have taken. When I found out about his illness, it was too late to take pictures.
Because I wanted to remember him alive and not dying. Because my family wouldn’t have understood. Because I didn’t want him to think that since I was taking pictures of him, it meant he was dying. Because I was trying to make him believe, to make myself believe, that willpower, that positive thinking, that belief in miracles…
After his death I decided to create a portrait of him. To build a kind of a mosaic with images of what he had left and what makes me think about him. To create a puzzle out of pictures and to puzzle out the situation.
Obviously, it’s a very subjective portrait. It’s not even an image of my father, but the one of my memory of him.
I realize that creating and recording memories (visual, verbal or any others) is a somewhat risky undertaking which kills our memory of people, places, and situations rather than preserves it.
Roland Barthes admits: „Not only is the Photograph never, in essence, a memory […], but it actually blocks memory, quickly becomes a counter-memory. One day, some friends were talking about their childhood memories; they had any number; but I, who had just been looking at my old photographs, had none left”. The sound of the shutter means for him the death of the reality represented by the image.
Jean Baudrillard, instead, talks about disappearing. „Every photographed object is simply the trace left behind by the disappearance of everything else”.
A memory, photographic one or other, is, for me, like a pin that once and for all immobilizes a butterfly on a mounting board. So why, after all, do I decide to stick this pin? Because I’m afraid that if I don’t do it, the butterfly will fly away leaving me with nothing.
Bogdan Konopka expressed this idea by stating that photography isn’t „by its nature, memory, but only a barely legible cheat sheet of experiences and feelings of an anonymous individual”. I don’t trust my memory, I’d rather have a cheat sheet.
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