Jennifer Gathercole United Kingdom
My work explores partially occluded family narratives associated with loss and trauma. I engage family members in the collaborative re-fabrication of emotionally freighted photographs, objects and garments using photoetching, textiles, text and audio recordings of fragments of testimony. I find the process of re-fabrication aligns strongly with our capacity to fabricate anew our narratives.
Through the material practice of reshaping and re-fabricating old 'charged' photographs, or objects I play with themes relating to trauma, loss and memory. For example using etching as a means of achieving deeply embossed images perhaps reflects how some versions of the past dominate and repeat, whilst other memories become obscure and partially visible. I use fragments of conversation and repeated thoughts in text form and in audio recordings of spoken word throughout my work. The fragmentary, glitchy nature of the audio and etching into metal, again speaking to the broken, intermittent nature of memory, especially as it relates to issues deemed as troubling.
My practice is underpinned by sociological research into the social representation of loss and trauma. I have a longstanding interest in the interstices of psychoanalytical and sociological analysis of trauma. I have worked in various listening related projects, from oral history, to standing against racism, to numerous voluntary community sector projects tackling oppression and it's psychological impact for many years.
My recent project 'Made Up' takes an auto-ethnographic approach to unspoken, taboo family history. In this project I worked with family members to re-fabricate objects from the family past. In this work the act of shared making becomes the conduit for reworking the past. It is in the unspoken elements, the stories only partially alluded to, the silent spaces and the troubled, imperfect memorialisation that characterises this work.
It is my intention to now build on this project to work with others outside my own family to develop my model of arts based research practice. I am interested in how issues of personal and family denial feed into national narratives of denial and exclusion.