13 Lambda Prints 40x60 cm, framed, 3 Lambda Prints 70x100 cm, framed, 5 text inkjet prints 80x124, © 2005-07 Paula Muhr
The series explores issues relating to childhood memories, intimacy, and anxiety about the imminent future loss. Stark, often almost abstract images of my grandmother's body, naked or in underwear, are combined with texts in which I express my memories of the childhood spent with her, re-tell anecdotes from her youth or describe her current habits.
The interaction between the images of her aged body, presented in fragments, and the words which offer a very personal and, therefore, partial insight into her personality, mediate the elusive presence of the past. Barthes stated that photograph is a form of «flat death» as it not only presents us with what was, but also precedes the actual death of the depicted person. My granny's face is never directly shown on the images - it is rather portrayed with the aid of words. Text, thus, plays an important role, not just as a strong graphic presence, but also as a means of suggesting the inability to directly visually represent intimacy and personal attachment.
My grandmother's fragile body, although it defies conventional presentations of female nudity, is everything but repulsive, since her willingness to reveal her flesh to the gaze of camera asserts its own norms of beauty. She is proud of body, which is still functional and quite healthy in such advanced age, and this self-assurance is the source of her beauty.
Ever since I can remember my granny, her body has already been old. In my childhood, it symbolised comfort and protection. However, throughout the years, as I have been observing her body slowly, but surely detereorating, it has also become for me a memento mori, a sign of inevitable passage of time. In such a case, her corpulence, the sheer presence of her body with all the traces of time incribed in it, becomes as important as the memories of the moments spent with her.