Al & Alice
Al & Alice
Photographs of loved ones are tantalizing because they promise to give you something, but the more you look at them, the less they deliver. They intensify a feeling of wanting to be connected, but cannot satisfy it. In this project, I am trying to capture more than a specific memory of a person, but rather their essence and the profound sense of loss that is part of forgetting someone. My goal is to trigger feelings related to time, memory, and the sorrow of losing a loved one and a former part of the self.
This project originated with a trove of archival photographs and a body of work in poetry that I inherited from my late aunt, Alice Goncalves Sousa. Alice was a first generation Portuguese-American whose parents emigrated from Madeira, Portugal, to East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alice was a very secretive person who never married and lived with her brother Al, and after his passing, lived alone. Upon her death, I discovered that she was a poet with aspirations to be an actress, but this ambition was thwarted by the Depression, followed by World War II, and compounded by the difficulties of being a woman from a first generation immigrant family. My reclusive aunt was the family archivist who saved photographs and material objects from past generations. The trove of photographs goes back to the turn of the nineteenth century. Studio photographs are mixed in with snapshots, many are of people I never met, but even those I knew, are like ghosts from another era.
This suite of Al & Alice Portraits are appropriated from archival photographs that include hand tinted studio photographs and photo booth prints as source material. These images were ubiquitous in their time and are in many ways the equivalent to facebook today. I am re-photographing and re-imagining these analog images and from the intimate two-inch photos, creating large-scale archival inkjet prints imbued with the softness and loss of detail that comes with one’s recollection of the past and the degradation of memory that is part of the aging process.
This project includes a quartet of film poems based on the poetry of Alice Goncalves Sousa including Promises, The Flame Still Burns, Alvaro, and Elusive Beauty. See the Film Stills section of this web-site for more information.