After our lecture on Monday about our theme for this week entitled “Something Borrowed, Something New” I felt inspired to look at the work of Julia Borrisova. She is a Russian artist who takes a different approach to image making than just the photograph itself. She considers photography as a way of finding meanings in the world. She often uses photography as a means of bringing together the photographic and materialistic. And in doing so creates different layers, surfaces and textures within the image.
In her series entitled ‘Running to the edge’ she uses found images and floral petals to create interesting compositions within the frame. In which Appropriation is a key element. The images used are from the early decades of the twentieth century which construct themes of memory and history. But in doing so she layers images of brightly coloured flowers on top of the image which juxtapose the effect of the black and white or sepia image. What I find interesting about this however is that most commonly these flowers are positioned to cover or hide the identity of the subjects in the photo. Which suggests that although photographs are kept to keep memories. Somewhere down the line these memories will get lost, which is true as Borissova found these images in a flea market. The juxtaposition of these flowers on the photograph may seem to add hope and brightness to the photo. However, to me I feel that the subtraction of details and memories creates a melanchonic effect. Yet suggesting that new life springs from lost memories.
“Memory rolls in like waves causing a sudden and acute experience which doesn’t refer to a life of a specific person. This memory is connected to a cultural stratum. Everything is mixed here, the present and the past, some old photo portraits telling the stories of life which were erased by flow of time, dried flowers that represent markers of what was important but was forgotten, the memories of what happened, but couldn’t be remembered.” (Lebedev, I. 2013)
When looking at these photographs I can’t help but think of the effect that time has on the image. The images of the flowers are very fresh and new and the photographs are very faded and old. Borissova herself said that “These flowers mark the present, but at the same time they are a very powerful vanitas symbol. Black and White photographs ‘mean’ a different era; they are a visual analogy of the idea of memory slipping away with time.” This idea of time that has passed is key in representing the subjects in a specific way that was constructed my Borrisova herself. The layout is key and without that thought that has gone into the construction, the composition would not be as powerful to the viewer.
The fragility that is within the delicate petals, along with the fragility of the old prints make the photographs feel very precious. Reflecting the way that our memories should be cherished and not lost as time goes by.
- Lebedev, I. 2013. Julia Borissova, Running to the Edge | Griffin Museum of Photography, Griffin Museum. Available at: http://www.griffinmuseum.org/blog/show/julia-borissova-running-to-the-edge/ (Accessed: 29 January 2015).
- Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera. United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing.
© Kirstie Wilkinson