Familiar Things - PhMuseum

Familiar Things

Fred Mungo

2020 - Ongoing

City of London, England, United Kingdom; Rieti, Latium, Italy

In the process of constructing one's identity, images and visual stimuli play a highly specific role. Through images, we are able to compare and define our own representation and mould it by emulating or taking the distances from others'. From the images that surround us, we learn performativity, gender roles, fashion, even posture. Family pictures are arguably among the first images we are exposed during childhood, both as viewers and as models. Patricia Holland, in the introduction of "Family Snaps: Meaning Of Domestic Photography" (1991) argues that: "At a time when the family group - at least in the overdeveloped West - is fragmented and atomized, images continue to be produced which reassure us of its solidity and cohesion" (p. 1, 1991).

Such cohesion, which Hirsch refers to as “familial myth” is conveyed often through a shared standardisation of family representation, both in terms of content (images, often, only capture “successful” moments of the life of a family, overlooking the everyday life) and aesthetic. Hence, in family albums coexist two potential layers of reading: a personal, private one - relating to the group of people represented in each given image; a collective one, which reveals the viewer information on the subjects and their socio-economic status, dreams and ambitions as a social class in that specific frame of time.

This is the sociological frameworks that grounds Familiar Things. Through the project, the artist invites the viewers to get lost in this immersive family-representation-performance, and embrace the nostalgia the images provoke as a starting point to (re)consider their own familial visual memory.

The project, only partially proposed in this application, is composed of three elements: wallpaper images, GIFs and physical installations. What is reported in this contest are extracts from Wallpaper Images and frames taken from the GIFs' series.

The wallpaper prints represent images extracted by the artist from family albums which, once blown to large scale, loose definition and, along with it, the singular identities of the characters captured. The final result reveals a much deeper symbolic meaning with which the viewer instinctively connects to;

The GIFs showcase a series of video fragments extracted from family video recordings. The looping of the images discloses the constructed nature of behaving in front of the camera and it unveils the performativity of such moments behind their naive appearance;

"Familiar Things" was born from the isolation period spent by the artist in her family house in Rieti (Italy), and was lately developed in London through sociological research.

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