When I grew up, my dad’s been following us with his faithful Canon AE-1 at every turn. The first smiles, the first steps, the first time sitting on Santa’s lap, mad birthday parties or my first day at school, you name it. But suddenly, things change. These important occasions become rarer, we begin to overlook the small moments and the gaps between collected memories in my parents’ photo books are getting bigger and bigger. Until there’s only blank pages left.
Now, with literally everyone able to keep hold of the things we experience day in, day out with our smartphones, our lives are more documented than ever. There’s all the meaningful moments we keep safe in our hearts as well as those we would instantly forget and never revisit, if we wouldn’t have the technology at hand. But what happens if you never had the luxury of someone documenting your dearest memories with families and friends? What if there’s not a timeline from infancy to teenage years you can simply look back at?
Photographer Verónica Losantos can tell a thing or two about that. When I went on a city getaway to Berlin last week, I dropped by C/O Berlin to see their fantastic Stephen Shore retrospective and luckily I stayed on for her very own exhibition. ‘Screen Memories’ draws inspiration from the eponymous terminology by Sigmund Freud. According to the great psychoanalyst, childhood memories layer into indifferent and circumstantial moments as well as striking, important and emotionally relevant memories. Due to the common resistance in the conscious reproduction of memories, we happen to veil the latter with less significant experiences and may even twist or falsify those recollections.
Verónica sadly doesn’t have any vivid memories from the time with her father that were captured on film. Their relationship ended when she was just 12 years old and the moments they spent together are either blurry or started to fade out. So for Screen Memories, she tried to challenge to what extent we can revive old feelings through reproduction, change or even create alternative photographic memories that never happened. Using 35mm film to give the pictures that characteristic late 80’s/early 90’s analogue vibe, Verónica created three different sets of photos: Actual memories with her father, photos that she knew her father took or that portrayed him and those moments she mixed in, which entirely stem from her imagination. The result is a stunning series full of life and emotions, a beautiful interplay of what might’ve been real or just fantasy, and the sweet awareness to cherish the moments we undergo to the fullest – whether photographed or not.
If you’re around, there’s still time to see Screen Memories at C/O Berlin in the flesh until 24th April 2016. It’s worth it, promised.