Doble Olvido

Eleana Konstantellos André

2018 - Ongoing

México, Mexico

In 1998 my maternal grandmother, Esther, suffered a serious accident in a swimming pool when she slipped and hit the back of her neck. That accident led to several strokes that, after many years, began to affect her short and long-term memory, leading to moments of temporary, spatial, and emotional displacement.

I realized that her forgetfulness was not only physical but that she also experienced personal forgetfulness as an individual, and, as a woman.

When my grandfather Alfonso asked her to marry him, he told her that she had to choose between her career as an accountant and her love for him. When they got married my grandmother decided to quit her job and devoted herself full time to her home and family. However, for many years, she continued to struggle to return to work, which she eventually did. She studied a career again and for many years gave therapy to people in crisis.

Using photography and archival material I seek to create a personal language through which I can rethink gender.

I chose to follow my grandmother’s life documenting and interpreting it in this way because I could relate to what she lived. The way women were treated when she was my age has not changed a lot from what I live in my everyday life in Mexico. Her fight is now my fight.

This essay is my way of understanding my unconscious inheritance following the maternal lineage of my family. It is my way of breaking with the repetitive pattern of submission and macho love. It is my way of not forgetting myself as an individual and as a woman.

This is my personal reminder.

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  • My grandmother at her "quinceañera".

  • My grandfather proposed to my grandmother through this letter. The first time I read it I thought it was really romantic until I started reading in between the lines. I underlined with red all the parts I thought needed to be deleted in order to understand the real proposal my grandfather was making. In this letter, he suggested to my grandmother to start taking more care of her house so when the time came she would be able to take care of him and their children.

  • "That the woman, whose main sexual gifts are self-denial, beauty, compassion, insight, and tenderness, must give and will give the husband obedience, pleasure, assistance, comfort, and counsel, always treating him with the veneration due to the person who supports and defends us, and with the delicacy of someone who does not want to exasperate the abrupt, irritable and hard part of her husband, (...)"

    This epistle was systematically read during all the civil marriages in Mexico until the early 2000s.

  • "That the man, whose sexual gifts are mainly courage and strength, should and will give the woman protection, food, and direction, always treating her as the most delicate, sensitive and fine part of himself, and with magnanimity and generous benevolence, that the strong owes to the weak, essentially when the weak surrenders to him and when the weak has been entrusted by society."

    This epistle was systematically read during all the civil marriages in Mexico until the early 2000s.

  • With this self-portrait, I decided to break with the repetitive pattern of submission and macho love.

  • "- Would you have liked to be a man?"
    "- Of course! I wanted to be a man because I wanted to be free and independent. In my time people valued more men than women. Women always had to be under the guardianship of a man: her father, her brother, her husband..."

    Interview with my grandmother.

  • "and yet I did the same to my daughters"