Violence Remembered

The curtain has been ripped from the rod, and the metal hooks hang forlornly along the limp ends of the curtain dangling from the pole. A chair has been viciously overturned and thrown on the ground on top of a pile of shoes that have clearly been kicked around. What happened here? It looks like the aftermath of a moment of violence. Perhaps someone got angry and went on a destructive rampage, trashing my closet in their rage.

Actually, I did this to my closet, and I was perfectly calm while I did it. Jessica Ingram’s work – taking photographs of historical sites where you can no longer tell that something terrible happened – inspired me to try to do the opposite: take a photograph of a place where it looked like something violent had happened, when in reality nothing violent had happened at all. The apparent evidence of violence was staged solely for the purpose of this blog post and nothing actually happened there.

Jessica Ingram’s work with places of historical violence in the South tries to preserve the memories associated with these places when the memories of violence are obstinately becoming detached from the places they occurred. It is possible to see the fountain that Ingram talks about on her website and not think about the slave trading that went on around it. With my photograph,  I wanted to show the same thing that Ingram is showing in her series of photographs titled “A Civil War Memorial”: that the memories associated with a place may have nothing to do what it looks like now. It is often only through research and outside knowledge that the memory of a place can have its full effect beyond what is seen of the place.

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