The Photographic Performance 2018 / Deborah Sfez
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts, conversations, focusing on the many entries we received for our call “The Photographic Performance 2018”. Deborah Sfez’s exhibition “The Mummies from Dresden” was in the gallery from August 3 to September 2, 2018.
“Photography, for me, means a creative research. It is a tool in the process of creating an image. I believe that the strongest and quickest way to communicate an idea is through an Image. This year I found in Dresden (Germany) a small Album with very small pictures of a German family during the years of World War II 1930-1948. I photographed them again digitally and covered all the faces with handmade red embroidery to make them anonymous and look like Mummies. There are no evidences of any war in the pictures, no soldiers, no signs of destruction, only peaceful photos of a traditional German family of those years, except one picture of 1947 showing a couple on their wedding day sitting on a bench while behind them we notice two buildings: on the right a building in good shape and on the left a completely destroyed one and this is the location they have chosen for their wedding photo to show to their children.
I have decided to give these little photos a new life and shoot them again with a digital camera, enlarge them and cover all the faces with red embroidery, first technically to cover their identity, make them unrecognizable and anonymous, by erasing their identity they become like marionettes all alike and we can concentrate on their body attitude and the way they are dressed up, their posture and the fashionable looks of their time. These members of one family become like corps with no faces like Mummies of an ancient time. In ancient Egypt they believed that when a person died it was the beginning of a long journey for her, therefore they believed the body should be preserved, wrapped up in many layers of resin coated linen cloth to keep the moist away and prevent the body from decomposing after death.
I certainly think that photography is a living evidence of its dead subjects. Therefore by “injecting” red thread into the photography paper I add a material that, like for the Mummies, preserve the photography, as a living material piece of an artistic document, that starts a journey in the eye of the viewer and goes beyond the photography and deals with the essence of the media itself. Now we have a series of unknown existences in a known historical period that lead me to asking myself many questions like: what is a Family Album? What is photography? What is the role of photography as a historical document? Can we trust it? What do people choose to show in their albums and what do they choose to omit? These are hard, disturbing questions dealing with truth, honesty, education to the next generation, memory and truthful history narrating.”
Deborah Sfez, 2017