The Absent

"The Absent" wonders what remains when a person dies by showing objects that once belonged to individuals, who are meanwhile deceased. Out of their status of being in use, they transitioned into being mementos. The bereaved try to fill the gap with things that once identified their loved-ones or belonged to the deceased.

The project is inspired by an observation that Roland Barthes makes in his book "Camera Lucida". At one point he states that he had to see the things that once belonged to his deceased mother (i.e. a chair or big handbags that she liked) in photographs to find her again (if only for a brief moment).

Following his argumentation, photography has the capacity to mentally bring objects to life – opposed to portraits that according to Barthes always carry the presence of death. Hence, through photography mementos can develop a life of their own. They overcome their personal character; the question to whom the objects once belonged or for whom they are still serving as triggers for memory is no longer the focus of attention. Instead these photographically fixed mementos ask beholders to recall their personal experiences with loss and remembrance in a rather universal way.

2011

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