Photographs are by Heidrun Löhr unless otherwise stated.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My own questions and thoughts coming back at me thick and fast

I basically want to keep you all posted about where my head is at. It is about trying to communicate better about the project. The below thoughts have been influenced by a couple of articles I have just read by Susan A. Crane - a historian thinking about history and memory.
1. Politics of group memory. Enforcing [normalising] of a dominant view without debate. Relocation of the experience of historical thought in the individual.

I feel that these groups are often driven by the 'stronger' thoughts of a dominant individual. Someone is often in denial of the construction of a sense of centrality - group memory. That person may not see it as political as they may not see it at all. Lack of reflexivity by default or desire. I don't know which.

2. Why history? Why look at the past? Because it can not be known? Because it creates our experience of the present? Because the small pictures can make a big picture? I don't know whether these thoughts are interesting or banal.

I have just started capturing a time-lapse film of the wall and the tree. We are getting toward late afternoon now. School is out, yet there is much more of the 'day' left. I wonder what the time lapse will do to the dappled light? And what has it to do with this?

I'm interested in commemoration. Actually, I'm interested in what it means rather than practicing it. My panel at the conference [in London] has something to do with commemoration and I feel I need to get to grips with how my work relates to this. My work seems to have encompass many of these memory/history concepts - thinking about the booth now, but also relating to my current work. These concepts are layers of possibility rather formations of dichotomy. I do not pit collective memory against historic memory, but rather encourage the analysis of one with the other - or at least try to create some sort of triggering effect. Why? Well, I suppose to to give others a moment of reflexivity, of reflection (which again relates back to the glass of the booth - the materiality of the installation object). To give others a point for reflection. And maybe they go home and talk and maybe that reflection snowballs into another collective memory. Or maybe it resides only within that person and within me. To be triggered by?...

Luca. Luca Giuliani. You were my reflective surface. I started thinking about the nature of reflection around that time. In a personal way. In that it helped me. As a person. As an artist. Now, thinking these thoughts, maybe there's more to it. Maybe I have always been working with reflection. Maybe this is the connection between the sunlight/glass structure and conversation. Transparency or reflection. Never opacity. The inside and outside. Creating a multitude of entry points. Do we see each other better through reflection? Or do we only see ourselves?

3. How can reflection be created with the PNG Work? What are the possibilities for use of mirrors? Where does looping or spiralling come into it? And conversation? Looping/spiralling makes the details and frame 'visible' through repetition and change. Transforming expectations. Transforming experience. Then letting go of meaning and 'the edges' to experience the kinaesthetic texture. To be touched.

4. Do you have letters from Margaret? Where is her voice? What did she think? Do I want to leave behind what I think? Will anyone ever want to read my thoughts? There are lots of them. Dozens of books. Hundreds of computer files. Some of those are already  lost. The time of my Fellowship. The time of reflection with Luca. Luca Giuliani. A small pang of loss. Those were prolific times, expansive times. A small pang. Small.

I suppose he is tied up in my experience of this project. Or the fictional him I barely even know any more. Three years ago seems like an eternity. Life has changed so many times since then.

Distortion. Feedback. Creation. Destruction.


5. Why Australia? Because I am Australian. It is a position I can speak from. Why PNG? PNG is the closest Australia has come to being the coloniser. To speak of colonisation with an Australian voice is to speak of PNG.

a) Why not go there? Because I want to see it from the position of collective memory and then question the nature of collective memory and how it is created.

b) Why go there? To experience the extreme foreignness in a place which is so close in so many ways - geographically, economically. Possibly not socially. I want to look at the distorted view and reveal the distortion. What does an experience in the 'present' do to collective memory of 'the past'?

6. It seems I need to go to Brisbane to interview the nuns who were there with Margaret. I need to speak with Kaye Lane and look at how the artifacts in the Sisters of Mercy Archive are contextualised. Brisbane is important. Also possibly the memories of Brisbane from my own childhood. Visiting All Hallows and the pictures of it. Of mum. More and more I realise this is about women. The experiences of women. Maybe that will change again. I see no problem having men involved on whatever level.
I was disappointed with Margaret's pictures. The obligatory humans standing in a line and smiling. Palm tree in the background. This is so typical of my family. Marking the occasion (not the palm tree). What occasions these are/were I don't know. It doesn't matter.

Why do I take photographs of buildings? Why not of people, except sometimes with a sense of portraiture. Perhaps my environment is more important to me than the people I am with who become relegated to fiction sometimes. Sometimes not. I don't take many photos anyway. I have some sort of fear or anxiety about creating yet more stuff to be sorted and managed.

[Actually, not taking photographs of people probably has more to do with preferring to allow people to keep changing in real life and in my memory. I find 'capturing' a moment tends to solidify it into something particular, with fewer options for renegotiation.]

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