School of Visual Arts (SVA)
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Dana STIRLING: My family roots back to England, but I was born in Israel. I was a child on a fence; a daughter to a migrating family. . . .
I always felt a misfit with my partial incomplete identity; torn apart between parents who have never blended in to the Middle Eastern culture I felt only half belonged too. Over the years I have heard of my parents’ memories and stories. Stories of happier days. The stories held on to the memories of a time and culture that I was not a part of, in portraits of family members that always remained anonymous to me. These stories were supposed to be my heritage. As I grew up, I started to question photography’s function as my memory, as my family heritage. I have browsed through these old photos, look for a family, but all I found was empty spaces—stories of places I have never been to, people I never saw, and a period that I never lived in. Using photography, I’ve conducted an examination of my history. I am researching a history that I don’t see as actually mine, family memories that I am not part of. The images become objects that I use in order to create a new history and memory of my own—people and places as I would like to remember and understand them.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
DS: I think this project came out of my own interest in family albums, and aseptically my own family’s album. When I created this project I had in mind one of my favorite photographers, Takashi Yasumura, who influenced my aesthetics and served as a visual and conceptual mentor to my practice. In addition, Sophie Calle was another artist that I was inspired by at the time. I wrote a paper about Vanitas in my last year of Undergraduate. (Vanitas as a visual tools for symbols of death and life, moments which are fragile and could go unnoticed.) I look through many paintings and photographs that focused on vanitas and its symbols and I see its influence on my work and the way I was looking at still lifes.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
DS: I am currently interested in many different artists. One of the artists that I have been looking at now, as an inspiration for my own book making is Christian Patterson with his book and project Redheaded Peckerwood. I like looking at this book as it combines different styles of photography in it—in addition to some interesting features in the book, such as an envelope imbedded into the page as an object and image at the same time.
Additional credits and links:
My husband Yoav and I run a non-profit online photography magazine titled Float. This magazine was created with a true love for photography. We try to build a platform for both emerging, young artists and established masters from the photography world, allowing the two spectrums to coexist alongside each other—hopefully, with the intent to create an interesting platform of art sharing and art inspiration.