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.
The rise of avant-garde art movements can be dated back to the 1910s although they became most prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout their historical development, the umbrella term – avant-garde art – encompassed movements such as Dadaism, futurism and surrealism from the 1910s up until the 1940s. Later, socially engaged avant-garde (1920s-30s), critical neo-avant-garde (1960s-70s) and situationist cultural avant-garde (1960s-70s) became prominent in the art scene. Peter Bürger provides a definition of the European avant-garde movements as “an attack on the status of art in bourgeois society” where the attack is mainly directed at institutions that influence our daily lives. The main aim of avant-garde movements was to abolish autonomous art by integrating art into the praxis of life instead. After they allegedly failed to sublate art into the praxis of life, theorists like Bürger found neo-avant-garde art to be inauthentic because it lost its shock value and essentially “institutionalizes the avant-garde as art and thus negates genuinely avant-gardiste intentions.”
In the last three decades, discussions over the prevalence of cyborgs have become prominent in academic debates, scientific circles and science fiction. This is mainly due to the fact that advancements in technology have begun to increasingly affect our lives. Although the word “cyborg” often connotes the image of a body that is half-human and half-machine, scholars like Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti see the cyborg in a different way. Haraway (1991) defines the cyborg as a “cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (149). Her understanding of a cyborg calls for a non-essentialist re-evaluation of our point of view on the world based on affinity instead of identity (155).