The Gesture of Tradition
“Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.” – Walter Benjamin
The Gesture of Tradition is a series of photographs that deal with the manifestation of identity through domestic tradition and ritual, art history, and the mass media. Familial and cultural history is a specific kind of narrative, one that is shrouded in reverence and subject to memory. The photograph, an object heavily involved with memory and narrative works seamlessly to convey this approach to legacy and identity.
Throughout this series, I strive to implement a sense of history – a narrative beyond the frame, delicately woven into the objects, gestures, lighting, and character. Certain props, poses, and environments have been appropriated from family photographs as well as found snapshots in order to situate the work within a broader dialogue related to memory, performance, and identity. The color palette, use of herbs and plants, as well as the dramatic lighting conjure imagery from Spanish still life to contemporary cinema. Everything within the frame is considered and functions to evoke something in the viewer that is familiar, but perhaps forgotten.
As a photographer, I am concerned with the narratives associated with images – how we remember as an individual, a family, and on a broader scale, as a society. The Gesture of Tradition is a visual attempt at a narrative recollection – to realize what is lost in the preserving nature of the photograph and possibly gained in the process of forgetting.