Private memories

Private memories

The subject

A cycle of photographs entitled Private Memories, comprising twenty different assemblages of three snapshots – plus one consisting of four snapshots, showing three subjects in a setting and one scenery without a figure – taken with a Kodak Instamatic, a Polaroid 600 or a Polaroid Spectra, as appropriate. The photographs, taken in the course of two years, are unique samples selected from among a series of similar photographs, all invariably showing the author’s daughters Nina, Zoe and Phoebe – today aged 17, 10 and 7.

The atmosphere

Exactness and indeterminacy are the distant poles – in this case, the final ends of two diverging trajectories that depart from the same origin - between which Simone Mussat Sartor’s twenty ‘private memories’ fluctuate. Here exactness underlies – or is present as a watermark – the project of the snapshot, manifesting itself in an invisible texture of preparatory markings, ideal geometric lines which work as a sinopia of the composition. In the attempt to portray the various subjects in the selfsame here and now, through the repetition of an identical pose, unchanged and established with pinpoint accuracy, in the same setting and the same attire, each photograph bears witness to a self-conscious quest for exactness, which speaks to an obsessive effort – or need – to keep everything under control, from the camera angle to the postures of the three distinct silhouettes. The final snapshot, thought out in utmost accuracy, testifies to an overt pursuit of precision which reveals itself most powerfully when we compare and contrast the images forming the triptychs. Indeterminacy is present in the shot – in fact, more precisely, it emanates from it as one of its incidental, albeit pervasive, properties. Its technical rationale being the nature of instant development, indeterminacy displays itself through a distinctly vague halo, an undefined milky fading effect – occasionally combined with a minimal hint of a stain or a smear – which plunges the image in a suspended, dream-like time, partly diluting the outlines of the figures and the tones of the colours. It is in the distance between the diverging ‘trajectories’ of exactness and indeterminacy that a palpable tension is generated, which goes some way to aesthetically characterizing this cycle of photographs. It is in this contrast between antithetical qualities that the predominant – and subtly disturbing - visual feature of the project comes into being, that slightly liquid timbre that pervades the general atmosphere and sets the temperature of these images.

Private memories

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