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[Fleeting Identities]

Up until recently, I believed that not knowing specificities about family history and not being able to fit into a specific category of identification meant that there was a lack of something in my sense of self. What that something was, I could not place my finger on.

Identity only becomes an issue when it is in crisis, when something assumed to be fixed, coherent and stable is displaced by the experience of doubt and uncertainty.

Kobena Mercer (1990)
From left to right: George (grandfather), Paul (great-grandfather), Wolff (father), Magda (grandmother)

Fleeting Identities is the result of the need to explore missing links within my autobiographical self. It explores the effects of subjectivity in memory recollection on a sense of self, but also on the formation of dominant narratives. In a world, in which society and relationships are constantly in flux, but identity is often seen as something fixed, Fleeting Identities presents a counter-narrative.

The installation, made up of 30 glass panels, uses the collodion wet plate process, ambrotype, to visualise the fleeting nature of memory and identity.

The negatives created by the technique require a dark background to appear as a positive image, resulting in the image appearing and disappearing whilst viewing, raising the question of their own existence. As the individual plates come together and capture a moment of the past, each unique plate is threatened by its ephemerality, should the highly fragile piece of glass be broken.

By revisiting my family archive, collecting images and exploring how scholars deal with this topic, I learnt to question the narrative that has been served to me and offer a space for reflection.

If interested in knowing more about my research and process behind the installation, feel free to purchase a copy of the publication or contact me to have a chat!

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Instagram — @georginahenry