The work of Queens-based photographer Dana Stirling is an in-depth exploration of the relationship between photography and memory. In the series ‘Cache’, she presents a personal examination of her multicultural upbringing and family heritage, questioning the ideas of reminiscence, identity, and belonging.
“My family roots back to England, but I was born in Israel. I was a child on a fence; a daughter to a migrating family. The house within culturally stayed European but outside was the Israeli controversial culture. I always felt a misfit with my partial incomplete identity; torn apart between parents who have never blended into the Middle Eastern culture, I felt only half belonged too.
Over the years I have heard of my parent’s memories and stories. I remember hearing of snow, youth, and happiness. Stories of happier days. The stories held on to the memories of time and culture that I wasn’t a part of, and portraits of family members that always remained anonymous to me and their faces were no more distinct than any other person in a generic photo album. These stories were supposed to be my heritage. As I grew up I’ve started to question photography’s function as my memory, as my family heritage.
My photographic practice chains together straight and still life photography, found footage from my family history and imagery from family albums. Using photography I’ve conducted an examination of my history. Due to the migration of my family from England to Israel that history discontinued, and therefore I find it hard to consider it as mine. In order to regain my history, I’ve appropriated images, along with ones that I have made myself, and edited them into a book titled “cache memory”. The statement that represents the book is the definition of its title – cache memory. The decision to name the book and present it through this definition is handed down as recognition of what is hidden in photographs, coded and read through context; that photographs can unfold memories but not necessarily the same ones that were originally embedded in them.
I’m researching a history that I don’t see as actually mine; Family memories that I am not part of. The images become objects that I use in order to create a new history and memory of my own; people and places as I would like to remember and understand them.I started not only looking for my identity in the old photos but also reflecting my feelings from these photos on to the world around me. I look for moments and objects where there is a tension created by their incomplete aesthetic. Photography allows me to look at the little and unimportant objects around me and make them a part of my history just by giving them attention. By looking at them, I capture them to remember, not letting them go away, yet not trying to save them. Watching their last seconds before I leave and the moment becomes irrelevant, capturing their last breath. With my camera, I grant them with eternity and in that, I grant myself a memory.” – Dana Stirling.
Dana Stirling is a still life and fine art photographer, and the Co-Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Float Photo Magazine. She was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and is currently based in Queens, NY; Received her MFA from The School Of Visual Arts in Photography, Video, and Related Media in 2016. Dana’s work has been exhibited internationally including Fresh Paint Art Fair in Tel Aviv, UNICEF Next Generation Photo Benefit at Aperture Foundation, NY, Google Photography Prize at Saatchi Gallery in London, UK, as well as the Brick Lane Gallery in London and the Tel Hai Museum of Photography in Israel. You can find out more about her work here.
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