Someone lived this
Exhibition: – 21 Dec 2019
Galerie Esther Woerdehoff
36 rue Falguière
+33(0)9-51 51 24 50
"Someone lived this"
Exhibition: 24 October ‐ 21 December 2019
Opening: Thursday, 24 October, 6pm
With Someone lived this, their first exhibition in Paris, the Spanish duo Albarrán Cabrera questions the reality of our memory. They invite us to think of works of art as the support of an imaginary journey, towards dreams, which allows the creation of fictional memories.
These photographs are inspired by their travels, their readings, the artworks they love and which move them. In front of the beauty of landscapes, glittering light, subtle colours, the viewer also dreams of escaping time, of reconnecting with nature - so present in their works - as a consolation for the world's current events. The mystery of the shaded figures in the series This is you here reminds us of lost friends or forgotten childhood memories that only photography can trace.
Over the years, with an excellent knowledge of history of photography and ancient techniques, they have developed unique and precious printing processes. They combine traditional silver printing, cyanotype or platinum- palladium printing with the use of pigments, Japanese paper and gold leaf. Their images are thus adorned with a singular intensity and light that seem to make the image shimmer, and enliven it with the emotion that was part of its creation. Far from being a mere image of reality, Albarrán Cabrera's photography becomes a magical object, a window opening onto other worlds.
Legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks studied the remarkable mechanisms we use to fabricate our memories, involuntarily blurring the line between the experienced and the assimilated: "It is startling to realize that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened — or may have happened to someone else."
Besides, in the absence of outside confirmation, there is not a trustworthy mechanism in the mind for differentiating a genuine memory from those borrowed. Thus, what we state or feel to be true depends as much on our imagination as on our senses.
As we cannot directly record in our brains the events of the world, each person experiences and constructs them in their own subjective way, to later on reinterpret them when recollected.
However, this imperfect and fallible memory system allows us a great flexibility and creativity: "It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds."
In the early 20th century, researchers found out that memories are transformed and reassembled with every act of recollection. There is not such thing as a fixed and static "memory", but a dynamic and imaginative process of "remembering" which is hardly ever really exact to the actual event.
The question running like a thread throughout Albarran-Cabrera’s work is how images trigger individual memories in the viewer. "We are particularly interested in memories. Our aim is to play with viewers’ memories and to construct a representation inside their minds. Our images are the bare bones of this mental construction. Thus, we’d like our images to form part of the viewers and help them fabricate new memories, creating experiences that might never have happened to them."
In their work, they deal with perception, memories, time, and identity. An image can trigger in the viewers feelings of love, hate, anger, joy, sadness or happiness. Each print will be translated differently depending on the viewer, but it is the labour of the photographer to do his best to create an object capable of making the viewers feel these emotions: "Photographs must generate emotions and arise questions. Only by asking yourself the most courageous questions and finding the answers, you’ll be able to increase your consciousness."
Text by Rosalind Cartwright (psychologist and neurologist at the University of Chicago, specialized in sleep disorders)