Series of 5 Lambda Prints on Kapa Board

The term microhistory often refers to a field of historical research that is interested in things on a small micro level: ordinary people and everyday events. It is the opposite of the usual macro level history, which instead is interested in things of the grand scale: states, wars, political leaders etc. According to one definition, microhistory “aspires to ask large questions in small places”.

These thoughts were the starting point for the photograph works, which I did during the years 2008–2009: for the series “Occurred and Faded”, for the installation “All Those Moments (Hidden or Preserved)” and for the series “Kinfolks and Strangers (Microhistories)”. All these works have similar features. They are constructed from a material which has been taken from my family archives. They deal with past, its presence – and absence – in the present, as well as personal history.

I see these works as a kind of miniatures of microhistory. They are crystallisations of individual situations or persons. However, at the same time they are interpretations made from today’s perspective. The works reflect the process that is very common with old photographs and other documents: the knowledge that could open the story behind the image has vanished, but the document itself still remains. The images are preserved, but the situations and people captured have disappeared out of reach. This process of forgetting and being forgotten changes the aesthetic nature of the remaining material. Everyday images may suddenly seem valuable, but even the happiest images contain now a touch of sadness.

Still, my goal has been to preserve the documentary nature of the material. Something old has been removed and something new has been added – but very subtly. Thus the documentary tone of the archival photographs has also shifted to all of these works. In their own silent way, they only document what is happening, perhaps inevitably.