House Rosenberg : outside in
This is a family album and a response. A response to a number of family albums that I received in my twenties from my friend. For a long time, she would chronicle our meetings, our road trips, and also my romantic endeavours of that time. Every so often, she would present me with an album of them. Our visual exchanges have for some time lived in sending moving and still images between ourselves, more often than not they are to provide a visual insight for the one who is not present.
This album was assembled initially for a slide show, with a narrative much less calm and considered than these images. Yet, I also realised that the images chosen for the projection were already selected for her and as a contemporary album of my last visit to her and her family’s home.
The home shares much with my mother’s childhood home. These connections between the emigration of German Jews; the construction materials that they moved to Palestine in the mid-1930s, and which means that House Rosenberg shares similarities with my mother’s childhood home; and our own families of origin, including their various involvements with the NS, has been a long and enduring strand throughout our friendship that stretches across Northern Europe and the Levant.
House Rosenberg : outside in, is a family album from the inside of a car, halting in various places across West Jerusalem and further afield, and the outsides (sometimes a little closer) of my friend’s current family home.
All the work around my family and their sites has involved a concern for truth-telling, veracity and an assumption that these may provide transparency: a form of knowing that allows errant energies to settle and coalesce in one place or another. To get things out of my hair and onto the page (in image and/or text), and while doing so to get a sense of which of these things were indeed my concerns and which a resonance of actions past.
At the same time, another concern was present too: to provide some shelter, a wall or veil to ensure privacy and to protect. This seeking shelter has been a strong rationale throughout all time I can think. And so has been the urge to rupture it. Possibly, it is one of the strongest lines of tensions that I move along on a day-to-day basis. This edge, this transition between shelter and exposure is the line that I have been trying to explore afresh over the past 18 months. In earlier times, I had considered it as a distinction between private and public space; and almost all my attention was focussed on the latter and how it became privatised, secured, cordoned off in the politics and practices of contemporary urban change.
The ways in which I currently explore these lines include:
- talking about the personal, the intimate while relating to the world
- subverting and misconstruing the confessional: appearing as if (private), while concerned with something different (public)
- testing out what holds tension and interest: what needs to be true? what needs to be something else?
- names, events, sites
- drawing on other people’s experiences, thoughts
- Talking about something private/ personal at all: placing it on the page in text or image; providing an audio-visual record of it outside myself: it becomes an account, placed by myself in a narrow circle of people who come across it (and potentially read it) on their feed. By placing it outside myself and yet as my post, I can look at each sentence, invocation, allusion and examine its truthiness, its ambiguity and to what extent it relates to my selves. In this sense, while author, I am also its audience, spectator. Over time, I can gauge the change of my response to the narration: I may remove it, alter it (shorten or expand), change the audience or move it across to a different site altogether.
The extent to which something needs to be altered or changed in order to hold a veiled publicness has surprised me: it is often very little that needs a change and alteration along the lines above. I realise that locations are named as true also and that re-reading these, I feel strongly the connection to a specific site (e.g. what my peripheral vision held in view, how the air felt or smelled, how my feet were placed on the ground). And still, in placing it outside and towards others, it becomes transformed: a mediation, and a different form of practice to the one in which the event initially took place.
writing about the site and showing the site let the site be two different things. in the writing (in situ and in memory) the string with its objects, my presence and that of others are foregrounded.
this is the site in full view. can you see it?
what other foregrounding of objects and presence can there be.
plans are being made and pieces reworked. this acquired another layer. gridded in the process it points to the future. illegible for the time being
(form, so variable, just look at it)
Two discussions and almost a week since my last thinking back to. Rather than a moving train it is now my sofa, a coffee, some music and a bowl full of duck down nearby.
Okay… a sunny Saturday and my joy at getting out of town. Of being able to run around a stretch of hill slope, woodland and nearby loch shore. Fresh filter coffee to share with a. before I head up further. I am excited in anticipation what this site will do to o|a and what this juxtaposing and transposition may amount to (for me, the initial piece, people elsewhere and in fact for the wood and bracken around.)
I am photographing vistas again. Here – this is what ‘near me’ looks like, or rather: ‘not so near me’ as it’s gazing at the far side of the loch and the hills beyond. The string becomes a line between two trees… a hawthorn and something more indiscriminate, young, leafless and of undetermined liveliness.
It’s playful to watch them enframing the view. The light catches on them and emphasises their waxy translucence. What beautiful objects. Moved around and handled by others; now and here being moved and handled by wind, gravity and sunlight. My personal and private performance, staged on a line and complete with sound. Am I audience, director or merely incidental. Who else is involved. Who is missing.