16 April 2010

Nostalgia Ad Nauseum

My final project for 2nd year photography. I went all meta...

This is my statement for the project:

Nina Raginsky is known for her overtly sentimental portraits that evoke nostalgia through their charmingly simplistic framing and subtle sepia toning, referring to portraits from the early years of photography. Each image is thus given a 'cherished memory' quality.

I chose to respond to her nostalgic aesthetic by photographing my old family pictures, embellished with cheesy gold photo corners, in her same stark frontal style; enhancing their aged look by altering their colors to mimic the discoloration of old color prints. With these old photos as my photographic subject, I wanted to speak to the issue of sentimentality and nostalgia in contemporary art, and the tendency to label them as kitschy themes. I referenced the cliche sentimentality of baby pictures and general bad taste of consumer photography in a sort of 'campy' aestheticization of nostalgia.

Looking within the photographic medium, there are inherent connections to notions of memory and loss. Each snapshot was a moment that ceased to be the instant after it was taken, yet is conserved through the image object which also continues to decay. In this way I find that photography, as a medium, tends to idealize the past at least in subtext due to its metaphysically nostalgic nature. And so, perhaps sentiment and nostalgia should not be pushed so swiftly to the realm of kitsch.

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