Exercise 3.5

Using the idea of ‘the theatre of self’ represent an unrepresented story from your

own family album. Practical strategies could include rephotographing,

reorganising, annotating, selecting, interviewing, etc. What different ways can

you test and explore to re-appropriate, refigure, unearth or reinvent a hidden

story from the past? Gather these experiments in your log.


Taking careful note of what is being suggested here I must bear in mind that the result must be from MY family album and it should comprise work which tells a story which is not evident in the actual albums.  I have referred elsewhere to the ‘missing’ great-uncle so that would certainly fit the bill.  I do know a bit about him and could easily elaborate on that – it doesn’t matter how accurate it is, or even whether its true at all, this is largely speculative.

It is an addition to the existing family archive, a set which could fill in a few gaps about the man’s life while acknowledging that the true facts may never be known.  There is a degree of flexibility here, an interpretation can be made by the individual viewer.

Indeed this is a logical extension of the way that nearly all photographs behave, but perhaps with a bigger nod to the confabulation aspect.  It would be interesting to see whether a ‘viewing session’ with my (grownup) children might embed a reading which they could pass on to future generations.  Should there be any (get on with it, kids).

Great-great Uncle Samuel is totally expunged from the family photograph archive, and with good reason – but no-one seems sure what the reason was.  Nobody knows what happened to him but we have our suspicions.  Samuel was real flesh and blood but he is presently without a ‘self’… maybe with some inspired guesswork we could breath some life into his history and rehabilitate him for descendants to come.

Because they are all from different sources and are different sizes the photos are each arranged on a neutral canvas.  They are snapshots from Samuel’s life, some from old photographs and a couple of modern pictures of things which are connected to him;  a foundry worker, ferryman, churchgoer, pubgoer, sheep farmer or (maybe and) convict.