Flughafen

For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.

–Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”

Flughafen is a series of three canvases I created for an exhibition of University of Iowa Art Education graduate students at Studio Arts.  The images are of an altered photograph printed on canvases of my grandmother returning to Germany with my mother and two siblings.  My grandmother, Carola Baker, came to the United States from Germany after World War II as a war bride.  When my grandmother passed away, a friend said to me, “When I lost my grandmother, I felt a great sense of loss in my own personal history.  Many of her memories and stories were lost, and I felt like I lost a part of myself.”  In this series I am exploring the that sense of loss.  I am interested in the slippage that occurs between discerning the objective and/or subjective nature of photographs.  Photography is often thought of as an objective recording of reality.  But in reality, the photographer makes many choices in framing a photograph; therefore, a photograph is a carefully constructed and subjective reality.  Memory and history, like photographs, present themselves as documentation of certainty, but like the blurred part of these images are undercut by uncertainty and doubt.  In my memories of my grandmother and her history parts will always be missing or denied to me in much the same way these images are obscured and blurred over.