Linda Zhengová is a photographer from the Czech Republic who currently lives in the Netherlands. She has a very diverse background in terms of her academic career from her BA in International Studies at Leiden University in 2018 to her graduating from MA in Media Studies with a specialization in Film and Photographic Studies at Leiden University with distinction (cum laude) in 2019. And recently, she graduated from a Photography BA at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
This interview is concerning her Graduation Show 2020 at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague that took place at the institution from the 10th to the 13th of September 2020. In her show titled Catharsis, she explores the notion of her own suppressed trauma from her childhood. The entire project consists of a photographic installation and a book that accompanies it.
This thesis focuses on the contemporary queer photography of the artists Zanele Muholi, Momo Okabe, and Zach Blas. More specifically, it examines the role of different theories on gender, queerness, and photography in connection to queer time and space, haptics, affect, and queer opacity. These aesthetic elements are treated as potentially subversive in relation to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the society of control. The frameworks of both queer and photography theories are employed to analyze the photographs’ formal and political aspects in order to explore their subversive possibilities.
The study of affect has gained momentum since the 1990s, especially since scholars within cultural studies and film studies have indicated their interest in addressing affect in relation to the examination of the body and materiality. Since then, affect has been discussed in terms of physiological processes, energetic intensities, corporeality and form. However, the lack of consensus over the term’s definition in academia makes it challenging, but also liberating to analyze a cultural object from an affective perspective. Within the academic sphere, a video artist that has utilized affect is Bill Viola, whose presence on the art scene became increasingly felt from the 1970s onwards.
In 1986, one of the most disastrous nuclear power plant accidents in history took place. As a result of this nuclear spillover, known as the Chernobyl disaster, millions of people were affected by harmful radiation and the effects of this catastrophe are still felt today. In 2015 and 2016, Kazuma Obara, a Japanese documentary photographer, travelled to Pripyat, which is a city situated five kilometers away from where the initial explosion happened. It was there that he found an expired film that had been exposed to radiation within the area. He decided to use this film in his photography series Exposure (2015-2016), which considerably influenced the overall outcome of the work.
The photo series In the Trousers of My Father invites the viewer to examine family snapshots, landscapes, studio shots of trousers and details of the trousers’ fabric pattern in combination with text. Besides the images, the author includes a video in which the final outcome of the series is presented in the form of a tactile object resembling a photo album. This essay will aim to answer the question: what is the relationship between time and representation in this photo series, in connection to the process of memorialization? I will first discuss this relationship in regard to vernacular photographs and their juxtaposition to photographs of trousers. Then, I will reflect on the process of memorialization as depicted in the combination of images from the past and present. Lastly, I will analyze the form of the series as a physical object close to the family album.