Photo project

Daré alla Lucé: Amy Friend Sheds Light on Photos from Family Archives

Canadian photographer Amy Friend buys online and collects old photographs from her friends, which she gives a second life by experimenting with light.
Amy Friend Age 40

Born in Windsor, lives in Ontario, Canada, where she teaches at Brock University. Received a BFA Honors degree from York University, Toronto, and an MFA from the University of Windsor. Has exhibited her works at the Galerie Riviere/Faiveley (Paris, France), Cordon/Potts Gallery (San Francisco, USA), Houston Center for Photography, Photoville (Brooklyn, New York, USA), 555 Gallery (Boston, USA), Onassis Cultural Center (Athens, Greece) and many others. Her work has been featured in publications in Spain, Israel, Canada, USA, and Thailand.

The Dare alla Luce series began like much of my work; I start in a specific direction, however, my process inevitably leads to experimentation and “play” with the photographic medium. It is the medium itself that intrigues me most.

The specific ideas for the series stem from conversations I had while surrounded by old family albums. These photos became the centerpiece, the topic of discussion. The conversations revealed how little I knew about those people in the photos. Some I had memories of, or I had heard stories about, but even then, they were mysteries.

I “re-use” light by allowing it to shine through the holes in the images. The title Dare alla Luce, an Italian term meaning “to bring to the light” specifically references the new life for the images. They were in many ways, unseen, hidden and through the use of light they enter our view once again.

I find the photos from a variety of sources. I sometimes purchase them online from places all over the world as well as in local antique markets. Some photos were given to me by people who know about the series. For this work I did not aim to use my own family album, it was more important that the images were “anonymous”.

As for how I choose them, sometimes it was intuitively but I am also intrigued by the individuals I come across in the photos. There is a certain essence to an image that hits you and won’t let you go.

The photographs I came across might have minor notations indicating a place or timeframe and at other times their history was completely lost. This presence and/or absence of detail was clearly an important part of the work. The title of each piece is indicative of its meaning; some titles were taken directly from the notations found written on the photographs, yet those without any indication of provenance were titled to reference the nuances of photography as a medium and the manner in which we interact with these images.

In many of the photos there is water present. I suppose this is where the “artist” reveals more about their own history. I adore the water. I grew up with it at my doorstep, so I responded to the images and used them.

The light from water in a photo is pure magic. On another note, the water represented a fluidity of time. It is ever moving within that motionless image.

Family history is personal and universal. We all have a story. It is these stories that I want to unfold and reveal. I think our personal stories are underestimated and undervalued, which is why I continue to work with elements of memory in my work quite often.

One of my favorite photographs from this series is “Are We Stardust”? That photograph reveals questions I have about life. My own very personal questions. It is also a dark image, but the trail of light is so hopeful. It quietly guides.

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