Accepted paper:

Mapping Berlin: Memories in the Present Moment

Author:

Holly Gilbert (The British Library)

Paper short abstract:

Photography is inextricably linked with loss and memory. The moment captured in a photograph is over as soon as the shutter closes and the enduring picture reminds us of this. My visual project uses photography to investigate how memories of the past can impact on our experience of the present.

Paper long abstract:

Photography is inextricably linked with memory. A photograph freezes a moment in time and holds it in an eternal present (Barthes, 2000). Photography is also imbued with a sense of loss. The moment captured in a photograph is over as soon as the shutter closes and the enduring picture can be a painful reminder of this (Barthes, 2000). In this paper I will present a visual project that uses photography to investigate how memories of the past can impact on our experience of the present. My ninety-year-old grandmother was forced to leave Berlin as a Jewish teenager in 1938. Using her pre-First World War memories of Berlin as a starting point for my own explorations of the contemporary city I have employed photography as a methodology for exploring the personal and collective loss that has occurred there. Walking around the city listening to recordings of our conversations about the time she spent in Berlin allowed me to immerse myself in its past while seeing its present through the lens of my camera. This highly personal method of mapping Berlin combines two different perspectives of the city: my grandmother's view from her life after fleeing to England and my own contemporary experiences of a city still in a state of flux. References Barthes, Roland (2000) Camera Lucida, London: Vintage

panel P13
Arts of memory: skilful practices of living history