Recreating Memories

Recreating Memories (2014) is a video triptych that won the 2014 Macquarie Digital Portraiture Award and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

Collective memory is an important function in every society as it perpetuates the identity of the nation state and therefore the identity of the nation’s peoples. The act of remembering carries special weight in China. Significant events in national history are erased or re-written. Centuries old villages or neighborhoods are razed to the ground or flooded to make way for high rises or dams. Historical sites are cleared of inhabitants, renovated and transformed into tourist hubs. Personal histories have become swallowed by the national pursuit for modernization. False or altered histories take their place.

While living in Beijing I asked local people if I could take their portrait. I asked them to choose a memory, and then together we would go back to the place where that memory occurred and try to re-create it for the camera. Through this collaboration, I produced a short clip of the memory, one simple action that can be played eternally on a seamless loop. Some subjects spoke of long lost loves, some of emotional turmoil, others spoke of their favourite ice cream. But what united them was the desire to re-create and preserve an emotional space that can no longer exist.

Read more about this work here.