Saudade is an exploration of the relationship between memory and photography through the mediums of found and anonymous family photographs and Super 8 film footage. Derived from the Portuguese language, saudade is an expression describing ‘the presence of absence’. It evokes a vague and constant desire for something that no longer exists: for something other than the present or perhaps something that has never occurred. The feeling of saudade can be considered synonymous with the process of viewing photographs, as these relics from a former time are simultaneously stuck in a temporal loop speaking only of the past and reminding us of what we have lost.

Saudade is comprised of two components: a series of photographs and moving images. The photographic component, titled Album, presents a fabricated representation of family history, constructed through the combination of photographs belonging to the artist and those once belonging to strangers. Through the re-contextualisation of these photographs, Album acts as an investigation into the archetypal family album and its function as a personal archive and container of family history and narratives. Album questions our capacity as humans to construct fictional narratives, not only from our own photographs, but how we can use those of stranger’s in lieu of our own to create stories relating to our own memories or entirely fictional ones. Through the creation of fictional narratives and re-constructed memories, the artist addresses themes of collective memory, playing on the belief that the ritualistic snapshots of family albums allow them to be interchangeable with others.

The moving image component, titled Home Videos, is comprised of three moving images, combining videos of the artists family with Super 8 footage sourced online. Home Videos is an exploration of film and its ability to transcend individual identity and function as a witness to collective rituals and shared memories. Each moving image plays on the customary sequence of family albums, focusing on marriage, children, holidays, and important occasions. Footage from multiple sources are merged together in an attempt to create new narratives and highlight the resemblance between family archives. Home Videos presents a highly curated narrative focusing on familial rituals, addressing the theme of collective memory through the manipulation of the family archive.

In conjunction, Album and Home Videos address the belief that memory does not reside in a photograph, so much as it is produced by it. Photographs have the capacity to create, interfere with, and trouble the memories we hold as individuals. They can lend shape to personal stories and produce alternate realities that may sometimes be synchronised but at other times askew.

Exhibition and installation photographs by Vasili Papathanasopoulos

Using Format