an oldie but a goodie.
to the few who follow me and the fewer that know me, i’ve started a new tumblr of just my photos.
you can follow it here:
When my parents flew from Seattle to California for my graduation, I asked them to bring with them a large box of negatives. The box, which could have been a shoe box, storage box, or any kind of box for that matter, had been filled with 35mm negatives dated from the 60’s to the late 90’s.
As I met them for dinner on the evening prior to my college graduation, they revealed to me a startling and tragic revelation: over 90% of the negatives I had found in my rummaging had been thrown away or destroyed in what I imagine to be, the destruction of familial history.
While aghast with horror, my mother quietly passed me a large Ziploc bag filled with the remnants of the great calamity: about a dozen rolls of film whose eras span from the 70’s, during my dad’s graduate studies, to the early childhood of my sister (late 80’s). After sitting on these negatives for the past month or so, I began the process to store and sleeve them. I glanced through the negatives, trying to navigate my way around the orange and brown faces that filled the negatives. Some are quite recognizable, my family and their friends appearing as if time possessed no hold on them, and others, whose faces mystify me now, recede into a vacuous space unknown to both memory and history.
So I sit here with a black binder filled with the remnants of my family’s own Alexandria. A history and archive that seems to have dislocated me from the familial narrative and into the role of a librarian, now sits beside me, as if imploring me to navigate its histories. But I worry about the abstractions and dislocations it presents. How it has the ability to recontextualize and destabilize the identities my family has constructed. I’m scared of how it has the potential to shift the paradigm of family from one of familiarity to one of abstract foreignness.
I’ve left the negatives in its binder, which sits in the corner of my room. But just as Pandora’s curiosity implored her to open the box, the negatives seem to be ache for me. The questions of what can, what will and what should be made from these negatives flood my mind as the small black binder calls out my name.