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Exposed Memories

Exposed Memories: Family Pictures in Private and Collective Memory

Zsófia Bán
Hedvig Turai
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    Exposed Memories
    Book Description:

    Within the larger context of cultural memory, family pictures have become one of the most intriguing multi- and interdisciplinary fields of investigation in the past decade. This field brings together artists working in different media (e.g. documentary photography and film, photo-based painting and installations, digital art, collage, montage, comics, etc.) as well as academics, critics, theorists and writers working in a wide range of disciplines including literature, history, art history, sociology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, film and media studies, visual culture studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and word and image studies. This volume intends to offer a broad, panoramic view of the topic combining West and East European as well as American perspectives.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-86-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Zsófia Bán and Hedvig Turai

    Within the recent general discussions of cultural and historical memory, in Europe the extension of the family known as the European Union has drawn special attention to the problems of belonging, homeland, exile, and homecoming, as well as language, trauma, and memory. When daily politics continuously insists on probing into who has the right to remember what, with whom, and where, it is no coincidence that we have chosen to examine the role of family pictures in private and collective memory. We believe that the notion of family best expresses the problems of belonging, be it belonging to a people,...


    • Incongruous Images: “Before, During, and After” the Holocaust
      (pp. 3-28)
      Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer

      In the summer of 1998, our parents/in-laws, Lotte and Carl Hirsch, visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) photo archive, where they had been invited to donate some of their family pictures from Czernowitz, the East European city where they were born, grew up, and survived the Holocaust.¹ The photos were intended to enhance the museum’s small archival collection of images from that city and the Bukowina province of which it had once been the capital. Selected pictures would be cataloged by date, place, and type, and labeled with additional information provided by the donors. Some of the photos,...

    • Beguiled by Loss: The Burden of Third-Generation Narrative
      (pp. 29-42)
      Nancy K. Miller

      This family portrait was taken in a photographer’s studio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan shortly after the arrival of my grandparents from Russia in 1906. (Fig. 1) The photograph joins a family that had been separated by successive immigrations, a pattern common to many Eastern European families in this period. First, in 1899, my great-grandfather Chaim Hirsch Kipnis (bearded and hatted), a carpenter; then, in 1903, soon after the famous Kishinev pogrom of that year, my great-grandmother Sure, seated to his left; and along with their parents, lined up behind them, two adult children, Zirl, a seamstress, and...

    • The Baghdadi Jew and His Chinese Mistress
      (pp. 43-52)
      Jay Prosser

      The first photograph we have of my mother has the aura of a family relic. (Fig. 1) For me, this is primarily because it is the first photograph of my mother. On the lower level between her parents, sitting in the lap of her father, the child still so recognizably my mother has her hands clasped in front of her.

      But even objectively the image is an artifact of times past—imperial journeys, conjoining worlds. Her father, with his thick but neatly trimmed beard, and his strong nose, wearing the kurta shirt customary in Arab countries and among Muslims in...


    • History, Narration, and the Frozen Moment of Photography in Richard Powers’ Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée
      (pp. 55-66)
      Heinz Ickstadt

      That photography goes hand in hand with narration hardly needs to be explained. We take photographs in order to be able to remember an event, a person, a moment. And when we remember, we reconstruct the story of that long-past—perhaps also long-forgotten—moment, made present and alive again by the impact of the picture. It leads us out of its frame, out of its “frozen” timelessness, back into time, into story, circumstance, or back to the person we once were or whom we once loved—the sepia tone of the picture reminding us of how much time has passed...

    • Memory and/or Construction: Family Pictures in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz
      (pp. 67-74)
      Zsófia Bán

      Over the last decade German writer W. G. Sebalds’s oeuvre has become a locus classicus for the interplay of photograph and text. When we take a closer look at the various visual media and genres he uses in his works—namely, photography, film, architecture, floor plans, and maps—they all turn out to be visualized metaphors of memory. This means that verbal images appear as real images around which Sebald constructs his narratives. Underlying the family histories presented in his writings, there is a collective event (the Holocaust) of incomprehensible and unthinkable dimensions, as well as the memory of this...


    • Virtual Communities of Intimacy: Photography and Immigration
      (pp. 77-88)
      Rob Kroes

      In this essay I propose to look at the ways in which immigrants in their new American setting connected to relatives, friends, and neighbors in their areas of origin. They expressed these continuing bonds through letters sent home, trying to preserve a sense of intimacy with those who had stayed behind. They also added a touch of closeness through the use of photography as a visual aid providing vicarious eye contact. There is an enticing directness to these photographs, suggestive as they are of a density of information, even though their rich and manifold meanings to those receiving them may...

    • Buried Images: Photography in the Cult of Memory of the 1956 Revolution
      (pp. 89-112)
      Géza Boros

      The fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and revolution directed the attention of scholars and the public to many of its aspects related to photography. Photo albums were published; photos that were well-known, as well as some that were previously unknown, were exhibited;¹ the story of people in photographs whose identity had been unknown came to be revealed;² and archives discussed questions related to photos of 1956 in their collection at conferences.³ The subject of my essay is a topic thus far unexamined: the use of photography in the martyr cult of the 1956 revolution in public spaces. During...

    • A Farewell to Private Photography
      (pp. 113-124)
      András Bán

      I began researching private photography in 1982. Let me list a few features of the intellectual and spiritual climate in Hungary during the late Kádár era that shaped this research. The concepts of forced modernization—that is, the centrally dictated pace of modernization for the underdeveloped economy—were becoming deflated by the 1980s: the fellow-feeling of West European communist parties had faded away, local strategies of consumption as a form of opposition were emerging. In the economy of shortage, consumption was ideologically connected to capitalism, that is, to the enemy, thus the desire or even modest practice of consumption was...

    • EVENTfulness: Family Archives as Events/Folds/Veils
      (pp. 125-136)
      Suzana Milevska

      This paper was imagined as an attempt to deconstruct the understanding of photography archives as supposed spaces for the guarding of authenticity and truth about certain events. I want to address the process of “unveiling of the truth” through the researching of photography archives and to question the possibility of such unveiling. I will focus on the difference between the state (or public) archives and personal archives, while stressing the importance of the gendered perspective of dealing with family photographs for the deconstructing of state archives in various art projects.

      My interest in “an-archiving” the archives stems from the need...


    • Visualizing Male Homosexuality in the Family Album
      (pp. 139-152)
      Logan Sisley

      This paper explores the work of artists and writers who retrospectively seek out representations of their sexuality in the spaces of the family photograph album. Narratives embedded in the album have traditionally excluded the presence of homosexuality, so any reading practice concerned with the retrospective account of gay identities must be sensitive to the visualization of absence. I briefly analyze the structural absences of the family album, then reflect on several artistic interventions within it. The relationship of homosexuality to these absences is introduced with reference to Simon Watney’s autobiographical essay, Ordinary Boys (Fig. 2), motivated by his confrontation with...

    • Please Recycle! On Ágnes Eperjesi’s Family Album
      (pp. 153-166)
      Ágnes Berecz

      As its maker and protagonist states, “this is a totally real, fictional album”.¹ (Fig. 1) It is an album that “tracks the most poignant events” of the artist’s life up to her eighteenth birthday and consists of pictograms of packaging materials taken from commercial goods. Eperjesi’s album, with its “real-fictional” character, seems to be imprinted with ambiguity and opacity, with constant doublings, distortions, and repetitions. Hence it both models and reproduces, reflects and replicates, those family albums that we all own and hold dear.

      Before looking at how it does all that, I would like to look at how it...


    • From Photo to Object: Personal Documents as History-Writing in the Works of Christian Boltanski and Ilya Kabakov
      (pp. 169-176)
      Éva Forgács

      The use of real objects—and junk in particular—in art is the most visible sign of the reassessment of not only the aesthetic hierarchy (traditionally with “beauty” on the top) but also the way the Western narrative has been reconstructed since photography turned it upside down. While oil painting was from-the-top-down narrative—that of divinities, kings and queens, famous battles, and outstanding individuals or, at least, the life of the mainstream bourgeoisie—the photo, ever since the coated photographic paper and Kodak’s first portable box camera were marketed in the late 1890s, was grassroots narrative, from-the-bottom-up, anyone’s private image-making....

    • Home Museum: An Installation by Katarina Šević and Gergely László
      (pp. 177-188)
      Hedvig Turai

      “It was not until 13 years after the war in Yugoslavia that Serb citizens could first enter Croatia without a visa. Many Serb citizens took this opportunity already in the first year to go and see the properties or holiday homes they had left behind. When they got there, many of them found that their property now belonged to new owners or was in ruins. Often, the local communities and the army joined forces in ruining Serb people’s property.”¹ This was also how the Ševićs repossessed their small holiday home in Zuljana, Croatia. (Fig. 1) The first thing Katarina Šević...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 189-193)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 194-194)