Time Recovered is about identifying with and separating from our parents and our earlier selves. I began this project at an age when I was looking back as much as looking forward. I had always chronicled my family (and myself) at their most quotidian. In the early 2000s, I was ready to make works juxtaposing the old photos with ones where I take on the earlier poses, beginning with Me in the Middle, for which I returned to my childhood home in Elkins Park, PA.
“Oh no, I’m turning into my mother (my father)!” This sensation, so common in people of a certain age, has for me often been about gesture. I channel, for example, the way my mother sipped a cup of coffee or applied lipstick, and the way both my parents smoked (how I longed to be a smoker! how I love to photograph people smoking!). When I was younger, I wanted to free myself from these “invasive” behaviors, but as time—and my parents—have passed, I now embrace them. I’ll even fling my arms high above my head in abandon, just as my mother did, to keep alive one gesture I loved so much.
These (mostly) word and image compositions depict conversations across time and space that I’m having with my parents and with my younger self. Some photographs come from my family archive; others I create to set up our interaction. I selected texts from a range of literary sources that obliquely refer to the emotional or political context, or our mortality.
© Ellen Feldman Photography 2021. All rights reserved.