From the Archives of Maeve and Thomas C. McNamara is an exploration of the photographic snapshot and how it acts as both a practical form of archiving and a translation of history through a specific set of aesthetic conventions. The subject matter of the work functions as a study of the punctum, described by Roland Barthes as the detail of a photograph that attracts the viewer and carries the referent with it. The work combines the ideas and principles of two different photographers to create a new archive that interprets what it means to catalogue life in imagery. Through the intimacy of photography as it represents and takes on the essence of its subjects, I am examining the effect of the medium on intersubjectivity and memory.
The prints are photomontages of my photographic images with my father’s snapshots pulled from family photo albums. His photos are representative of a snapshot photographer, capturing celebration, domesticity, and tourism; a majority of his collection was taken on yearly trips to visit family in Ireland. The photographs from my archive record my childhood home through various stages of moving out after I’d lived there for my entire life, becoming a visual processing of what it means to go through a significant change. Our archives function in similar ways, acting as lasting evidence of times and places that are no longer accessible. The images used to create the photomontages were selected based on composition and form. My interior photos are juxtaposed with his exteriors as several dynamics overlap through double exposure: layman and artist, father and daughter, well-traveled and relatively provincial.
The audio grounds the work in storytelling and its significance in Irish culture. There are multiple stories told by my father, allowing his voice to be present in the work and giving the audience insight into how he is utilizing photography as a medium of communication to aid him in recounting memories. There are clips throughout of myself reading from a personal essay about adjusting to change and how I use photography as a tool to ease an abrupt relocation. A third segment combines separate stories that cut back and forth between our two narratives, mirroring how the created images bridge our archives together.
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