My Childhood Reassembled
Project info

I grew up in the American suburban midwest of the early 1960s. This project reflects my experience in that time and place as a young child trying to make sense out of his world and his family relationships. For this visual memoir, I photographically recreated selected vignettes from my childhood in early 1960s American suburbia. Based on memory and family snapshots, I first constructed and photographed a miniature replica of portions of my childhood home, and then directed and photographed an ensemble of actor-models. The photographs of the sets and the photographs of the actors were then combined digitally.

The title, in addition to describing the act of physically reconstructing the environment, also refers to the science that has shown that memories are not static, but are recreated and reassembled each time they are conjured in the human brain.

I have many rich emotional associations conjured by simple sensory recollections of our remarkably bland, modest house. For example, when I think of the heavily varnished, badly nicked, inexpensive hollow-core bedroom doors I remember the complicated, mixed feelings I harbored towards my siblings, who were alternately my best friends and arch-rivals. When I think of the kitchen linoleum floor, I remember wondering, with a mix of anxiety and curiosity, about the mysteries of my parents’ marriage, trying to make sense of their hushed tones as they spoke quietly in that room when my father came home from work late at night.

Childhood is as emotionally complex a period as any other stage of life, though as children we lack the ability to put such a wide range of feelings into any coherent perspective. Life then, can be at times especially magical, at times mysterious, and at times bewilderingly painful. These images reflect my experience as a young child trying to make sense out of his world and his family relationships, as reflected in the fluctuating and ever-changing mirror of my memory.