The Black Box
At the time I could no more believe my eyes than I can now trust my memory.
This then, I thought, as I looked round about me, is the representation of history. It requires a falsification of perspective. We, the survivors, see everything from above, see everything at once, and still we do not know how it was.
W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
In May 1940, the Nazis took the northern town of Lille, France, bombing some parts of the city before sending their troupes in. One of the houses hit during the air attacks was the family house of my grandmother – my mum’s mother – then a 13 years old girl. After few days waiting alone in a makeshift hospital, where German soldiers had brought her, she was amputated from her entire right leg.
Lille’s suburbs were to suffer more bombings in the next years, perpetrated from the Allies this time.
Of my grandfather, my dad’s father, there is very little I know, having met him only a few times. One of the things I’ve been told is he was a war pilot during the conflict. It resulted in burdensome memories, which would become verbal during fever episodes, as he got older.
In 2015, in a flea market near London, I found about 200 photographic negatives clogged in a black metal box. The first images I got to see were a portrait of a woman and a snapshot of soldiers standing by an RAF plane.
Based on archival materials, The Black Box (2015-16) alludes to both memory and history and questions their system of representation and relation to truth.
Evolving around the themes of war, guilt, trauma, escape and amnesia, the work gives rise to a state of uncertainty that ultimately echoes our own struggle to, not only comprehend the past but also trust the present.
Neither true nor false, it is always in-between.
W.G. 西博尔德 《土星的光环》