___episodic reconstructions

Episodic Reconstructions is an insight into the ‘myths’ that my late father lived by, but also a reflection on the process of me working through and questioning my childhood memories. The printed outcome of my project consists of original extracts from photo albums and written diaries, as well as photographs of an installation which represents the ‘myths’ that I experienced through my father.

The basis of this project is framed in the context of the French philosopher Roland Barthes, who was a social and literary critic, interested in the hidden messages and fictions that manipulate consumers and the public. In his book Mythologies (1957), Barthes explains and demonstrates how everyday objects and activities can contain ideological meaning. He understands myths as messages, practices and beliefs that may be accepted as natural.

Sigmund Freud was concerned with the process of recalling memories, particularly early recollections. Other professionals have built on these theories and specialise in the episodic reconstruction of memories. It is suggested that the process of reconstructing early events is very subjective and influenced by a large number of factors. Cognitive functions such as individual perceptions and social influences can lead to errors during reconstruction and distort the reconstructive process of memory recall. Episodic Reconstructions is exploring the connection between imagery, memory and the values that an individual may experience during their childhood. Memories and expectations are created early on and throughout one’s life. As we grow older, these memories and expectations are reflected upon in various ways such as questioning, discussion, review or rejection.

I wanted to apply Barthes’ concept of myths to my family. I defined the ‘myths’ and narratives that governed my upbringing through the use of several photo albums and diaries that my late father passed on to me before his dementia reached its final stages. I extracted values and beliefs, that my father enforced throughout my childhood. These principles are usually taken for granted and seen as truths during childhood until they are questioned and contemplated on much later in life.

This project also gained a second, self-reflective layer throughout its duration: Besides the exploration into the themes of my childhood, it also became about the fragility of parental expectations and the vagueness and deceptiveness of childhood memories. Whilst I tried to recall these early memories, they seemed to increasingly be harder to deconstruct in an objective way. Any attempt to re-tell childhood memories will always be highly subjective.