what futures are promised, what futures are forgotten. Reading a family archive

what futures are promised, what futures are forgotten. Reading a family archive

45 b/w prints (variable sizes), 3 colour prints (variable sizes), Plexiglas (variable sizes and colours), Gabon blockboard, untreated steel, 2 looped videos, 6 postcards with image and text

Exhibition display
ifau – Institut für angewandte Urbanistik

Graphic display
Wolfgang Schwärzler

Research associate
Verena Stahl

Exploring openings and omissions, the installation attempts to create new relationships between previously unrelated photographs. The forty-five photographs are taken from the private albums and collections of the artist’s family. They cover a period from 1930 to the 2000s. Enlarged and freed from their jagged edges, specific details and signs of use become clearly visible. The photographs reveal the spirit of the times, tastes, political attitudes, and everyday life.

Sandra Schäfer creates new connections between the photographs by combining them on ten panels. Sheets of coloured, transparent Plexiglas allude to a display but do not overlay the panels as a whole. Instead, they highlight a section of an image in some places and establish relationships between two images in others. In doing so, they intervene in the documentary character of the photographs. Transparent, colourless Plexiglas surfaces join the photographs. They refer to the numerous empty spaces: missing photographs, but also what has not been photographed. These empty spaces also allow the viewer to fill them with their own stories.

Two videos in which the artist leafs through five family albums without commentary complement the photo panels. Seven postcards with texts on their backsides contextualize some of these photographs. This autobiographical work is thus about recovering unrealized possibilities in one’s own biography that always go beyond the self because they reach into historical, political, and geographical dimensions.

Installation views: Contaminated Landscapes, Camera Austria, Graz (2021), photographer: Markus Krottendorfer

© 2018 mazefilm - Sandra Schäfer