When photographer Jennifer Loeber’s mother died, Loeber began to photograph her belongs as a way of coping with her grief. She matched her photos with vintage pictures that her father had taken of her mother and posted the pairs on Instagram. The resulting series, “Left Behind,” is a poignant memorial, both deeply personal and universal.
The everyday objects that remain when loved one dies become an instant museum of sorts, freezing that person in time. A favorite pearl ring will never be replaced by a diamond; an unmatched glove will never be matched to its mate. A used lipstick, valueless in itself, becomes a cherished object, chosen and applied by the person so missed. Many times these everyday objects are the most touching and the most difficult to dispose of.
“I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my Mom’s belongings when she died suddenly this past February. Instead of providing comfort and good memories they became a source of deep sadness and anxiety and I knew the only way I would be able to move past that was to focus on a way to interact with them cathartically. I had recently become active on Instagram and realized that utilizing the casual aspects of sharing on the app was a way to diminish my own sentimentality towards the objects my Mom left behind.”
Reframing the objects allowed Loeber to experience them without searing grief. Instead of the items feeling haunted, they became imbued by fond memories of her mother’s life. By matching them with her father’s photos she was able to make a fitting memorial to her mother, one that was less about personal pain than about remembrance.
“My dad refused to hold a traditional funeral service because he and I believe you should celebrate a life, not mourn it. I’m sure this body of work falls in line with that concept.” (Source)
Photographer Nina Röder creates Mutter Schuhe (Mother’s Shoes), a series that through a variety of portraits visually explores the evolution of three generations of women: her (Nina Röder), her mother, and her mother’s mother. All three women are wearing Röder’s grandmothers clothes and they are sitting around in the old rooms of her (Röder’s) mother’s childhood home. All women maintain more or less the same expression, one of nostalgia for the most past, as they reenact mundane activities throughout the home. Through her choices of clothes and props, the artist is looking to explore how different individuals, her family, recall the past and how it evolves as time wears on.
“The personal narrative of my mother and my grandmother effects my life in a very dominant way: Almost every artwork I’ve done so far is influenced by conscious or unconscious aspects of family stories. For example, my grandparents were expelled from Bohemia (now Czechia) after the Second World War so they lost everything they had. I guess that is the reason why my grandmother now is keeping all her old clothes or furniture from the last 40 years. Almost all my ‘models’ are wearing clothes from my grandmother.”
British photographer Vikram Kushwah recreates pieces of the past with staged photography. Working with fashion designer, writer, and researcher Trisha Sakhlecham, the two produced a series of images titled Memoirs of Lost Time. The subject matter, its tone, and coloring of the photographs are a dreamy and hazy. They straddle the fine line between what is a dream and what is a memory. Each image features a person gazing beyond the landscape, as though they are longing for something lost.
On his website, Kushwah writes about Memoirs of Lost Time. He says that the series is inspired by the romantic notions of childhood memories, and goes on to say:
…A biographical documentation of sorts, of seven creative personalities’ childhood recollections, this book captures not only what was, but also suggests a very imaginative take on what could have been.
Stories evocative of the intimate moments and bygone days of these personalities are embellished with wondrously staged pictures featuring the subjects themselves. Each chapter takes you into the personal and never seen before world of one of these personalities with a short story, an insightful interview and photographs, weaving in and out of reality, where you start beginning to drift into a realm of imaginative possibilities and yet remain attached to the facts that were.
With dreams, like distant memories, we sometimes question whether or not something actually happened. While this could be distressing, Kushwah chooses to embrace uncertainty and magic of it all. There are some fantastical elements, like a woman that is carried away by small umbrellas. But mostly, these images lack action. Instead, they depict quiet moments in the company of many books or the vast outdoors. Reading and nature provide the perfect fodder for imaginations to run wild. (Via My Modern Met)