Yesterday I wrote about the cake that I'm going to bake with my mother today.The cake is part of my most recent project Back to the Future,a project inspired by the work of Irna Werning. This is a project that I assigned to my students before spring break. I picked out about 12 different photographs of myself as a child, my students pick through the imaes, deciding which ones I would remake.
There are obvious formal elements of photography that become a challenge, like composition and posing of your models. However there's a whole slew of issues that arrise as I am recreating these images. I am beginning to evaluate where items may have been purchsed, why I might have picked those articles of clothing on that day and more importantly I am begining to see the amount of effort that went into the day that this photograph was taken.
My hope is that through making these recreations, essentially research about my personal history, that I am able to make meaning in and through my work. I suspect that my students, who take this project seriously, will also have similar experiences. I asked a series of questions related to the creation of this project:
i.Why do you
believe people take photographs?
happening in the original photograph, why was the picture taken?
your family’s history with photographs, how do they use it, is it important
how this photograph fits with your personal concept of photography
information about your process, what challenges did you face, how do you feel
Clearly some of these questions are easier to answer than others. In this image the photograph is taken to commemorate an important moment in a life. Birthday's are one of these occasions but for my family, it is likely more significant that my dad was home for his birthday; he often worked for long periods of time away from home. For my family taking photographs was definitely not an every day event, photographs were an expensive luxury. If an event warranted pulling out the camera, as a child, I knew that it must be significant. Therefore days that are documented are usually birthdays, Christmas and visits from relatives.
This is also the image that is proving to be the greatest challenge, actually the series of images from this day. March 1981. For some reason we are celebrating my dad's birthday, though he is born in May ( I guess the date on the photographs may be incorrect.)
Getting onto the point of this post, the cake! Recreating this photograph is affording me the chance to get together with my mom. Since she is the baker of the first cake, I thought it would be fun to include her in the making of this one too. I'm not JUST lazy, but I don't know how to cut the cake and put it together. I contacted my mom. Unfortunately she informs me that she lent her cake decorating book (from the 1970's) to someone and they never returned it.
Making this cake is turning into a real adventure! Even going over the ingredients list with my mom, I am surprised that I remember so much about this cake, I was only 4 or 5 at the time. It is has coconut on the frosting to look like hair, lifesavers for decoration, and black shoestring licorice for the reins. After a quick search on the interntubes I found the cake. One thing is certain, so far this project is reconnecting me with my past in ways that I couldn't anticipate.