For this new project Deleting Memory, commissioned for The Social: Encountering Photography, Indonesian-based artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina set out to explore the relationship between the city and its citizens. Using photography as their primary device, they sought to uncover and playfully intervene in everyday patterns of memory. As visitors to Sunderland, they invited others to work with them in a process of swapping and deleting photographic memories of the city. Sunderland, with its industrial and maritime heritage provides a rich context for such creative photographic exchange.
‘City in Memory – Cities give concrete form to human visions of living. The historical and industrial ambitions of many cities are today transforming, changing the character of places like Sunderland afresh. Such transformations are seen as necessary, ensuring the ongoing vitality of the city. At the same time, a certain balance is necessary, the maintaining of a sustainable relationship, an ecosystem conducive to the experience of citizens. Memory is an essential element in understanding and reconstructing stories, signs and details of any city. But what is the relationship between personal and collective memory? Which memories last and endure and how do memories change?
Limitation – Digital cameras and phones have fundamentally changed the ways in which we record and remember. It seems photography in the digital era is limitless. Everything seems possible and photographs are everywhere. Ordinary teenagers take more photographs than many professionals. Yet, the value and meaning of photographs seems in decline: as in economics, the more abundant the object, the less it is worth. DeletingMemory will respond to this situation by reversing it, through the imposed limitation of digital storage capacity. Imposed limitations and restrictions make things crucial!’
Ahmett & Salina, October 2013.
This participatory project sought to explore a city in transformation from the individual perspective of everyone involved. The process started with the artists selecting 10 photographs of Sunderland landmarks. Their selection was based on their on-line research and their short time as visitors to the city. These 10 images were then saved onto a memory card. Participants were given instructions to replace these preloaded images with new images of their own that seem more representative of their point of view and experience as citizens. They were asked to carefully consider before deleting and replacing the existing images. Once deleted, the erased images are gone from memory (card) and this process aimed to deliberately provoke some personal tensions. The aim of Deleting Memory was to challenge citizen photographers to relook at their city, giving everyone decision-making power through the space/lens of their personal cameras.
Displayed at Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland 11 – 24 November 2013.