LAYERS OF TIME

When my paternal grandmother died in 2013 my father brought me as a memento a photographic negative from China. In the course of enlarging this negative in the darkroom, a rip running diagonally across the picture became visible.

This picture turned out to be a studio shot from the year 1938. As my grandmother´s family consisted mainly of wealthy intellectuals they had to face many difficulties during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Old family photos were generally lost, but this print, torn apart and covertly hidden, has survived as a silent witness of time and history. After the Cultural Revolution ended this print was glued together, and photographed. But that picture was lost. Its negative, the last remainder of those times – is now in my hands.

The second girl from the right is my grandmother. All those people in the photograph have already gone, and most of my family´s history as well as a part of the history of China. Memories have been pulled off, partly lost forever; their faces disappeared into the void.

Therefore truthful records of past can be found in that splendid clothing, within the photographic staging, and through the rip on the photographic negative. Thus, this negative – now modified through my work – not only represents an image of the people but also mirrors the turbulent history of China.