The House of Memories

Photographic project about Silmara's grandparents' home.

Photo Essay
A Casa das Memórias
The House of Memories
2008 - 2012

This work is about my grandparents' house. It's the place where I was born, where my grandparents have lived as long as I've known them, and where I have spent holidays with my family since I was a child. It is a place charged with stories and my fondest memories.

I started photographing my grandparents' house a couple of years ago when I noticed that things were changing faster than usual, at this place where previously very little had ever changed. Every time I visited the house, something else was missing. I experienced a deep sense of loss because I started to understand that my grandparents were nearing the end of their lives - and along with them, their house and their belongings would soon face their own end. Thus, part of my own story was about to disappear, too.

The more I noticed the changes and my reactions to them, the more I felt the impulse to document the place. This became an attempt to somehow preserve the things as they were, and also my particular way to explore my emotions. It seemed to me that all of my precious memories could suddenly vanish if I didn't have a physical connection with their source. So I photographed the source.

My photos are not primarily about memory. Instead, they are about the importance of the ordinary, day-to-day objects and places that are vital parts of our story, and how they trigger a whole chain of emotions with their strong sense of the human presence.

This work is a personal journey, but it speaks to a large audience because it reflects a collective sense of what we call "saudade" in Portuguese - the bittersweet nostalgia we may have for our individual pasts.
Much of my subsequent photographic work has been influenced by this process of noticing what has long survived but is only now about to disappear. Creating the House of Memories has lead me in a search for new/old stories while I keep exploring my inner self through other worlds.
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