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screen memories

Talents 36 . Verónica Losantos / Anja Schürmann

“And a human is called human because he forgets, because he suppresses. And because he enthuses and fortifies, because he warms when telling a story”. Herbert Grönemeyer

Birthdays, visits from relatives, baptisms, first day at school, holiday trips, last day at school – photo albums canonize special family events to collective narratives and visualize individual life stories. They are an affirmation of one’s own origins, important props for memories and breathe new life into long-forgotten incidents. However, what happens when a crucial protagonist is missing from this narrative – one’s own father? How does his absence influence one’s own childhood memories? Can one create the absent photographs of him in retrospect? And can one revive memories through visual reenactment? Verónica Losantos has no photos from the time she shared with her father and the absence of these photographs prompts her to fill the gaps in her memory herself. With her artistic appropriation, reconstruction and association of the past, Verónica Losantos reveals the fleetingness and lack of definition inherent in the act of remembering.

In her series “screen memories” Verónica Losantos stages three kinds of pictures: She photographs memories that she has of the time with her father. Then she produces photos that she knew her father had photographed himself back then or also photos that portray him. Finally, she completely reinvents memories and creates a past that does not exist. She stages and imagines new situations with her father – a conscious simulation or manipulation of the contents of memory. Yet what is true, what is fictive? These three artistic approaches are not specified and are combined in her work in such a way that the viewers are left to decide themselves which kind of memory they are looking at.

Interestingly, the moments and situations that Verónica Losantos simulates are not the classic highlights of a family album but so-called screen memories. According to Sigmund Freud, these “screen memories” are slips of the memory: In memories of childhood that are recapitulated actively, it is not necessarily the “significant” things, but rather the “insignificant” ones that come to mind. Screen memories are triggered by two conflicting forces – one of them attempts to remember the important incident while the other tries to suppress it as a form of protection.

The two forces do not cancel each other out but instead produce a “memory compromise”. It is not the significant incident that becomes the recollected image, but an element that is strongly linked to it associatively, something that could have happened before or after, whose relevance forms a seemingly strong contrast to the emotion-driven memory. The memory is hence to some extent shifted into the association.

Verónica Losantos` photographs are analogue – hence they have a special colour, a similar aesthetic. The analogue edits are much more raw as there are no pixels but instead grains and scratches. At the same time, there is not always the same sharpness. The imperfection of the texture is inherent to analogue photography. The real prints and the fixation in materiality are a reference to the process of development, the appearance of the photograph. Verónica Losantos not only shows how we remember through the selection, the perspectivity or the arsenal of images but also through the format of her photos, which for her represent different presences within the memory.

Verónica Losantos, born 1984, studied Communication and Media Studies at the University of Burgos and Photography at the Lette Verein in Berlin. In 2013 she won the 2nd prize of the Close Up! photography competition held by C/O Berlin. Her works have been exhibited in Freies Museum Berlin, the gallery World in a Room, the Contact Photography Festival in Toronto and in the gallery f5,6 in Munich, and she has been selected for this years Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie Festival, where she will also have an exhibition. She is currently working as a freelance photographer and in the field of education at the Society for Humanistic Photography. Verónica Losantos lives in Berlin.

Anja Schürmann, born in 1978, did a PhD in art-historical image descriptions as a scholarship holder of the DFG graduate research training group “Bild-Körper-Medium“ (image-body-medium) at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. Since 2009 she has been a research assistant at the Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf and also works as a freelance author –for numerous exhibition catalogues and for HANT – Magazin für Fotografie, among others. Anja Schürmann lives in Düsseldorf.