Dana Sterling‘s photographs from ‘Cache Memory’ seek to create a personal history, a series of pictures that somehow reveal the truth of the artist while not being of the artist. In short they are a fabrication, an effort to build a visual history that reflects her uncertain life as an immigrant in Israel; a young girl born to English parents and living in the Middle East. In a world of violence and political extremism. This dichotomy between a tranquil English background and a explosive – sometimes literally – reality in Israel is what gives these photographs their resonance, their title. Cache memory. As Sterling articulates so well:
I’m 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. I started not only looking for my identity in the old photos but also reflect my feelings from these photos on to the world around me.
I look for moments and objects were there is a tension that is created by their incomplete aesthetic. Photography allows me to look at the little and unimportant objects around me and make them a part of my history just by giving them attention. By looking at them I capture them to remember, not letting them go away, yet not trying to save them. Watching their last seconds before I leave and the moment becomes irrelevant, capturing their last breath. With my camera I grant them with eternity and in that I grant myself a memory.
Like Sterling I grew up in a place that was alien to my family history, an Irish boy on a South Pacific island. However, the south seas are a far cry from the Middle Est and my problem has always been the opposite to Sterling’s. I never fit into Ireland. I always wanted to go back to my little island. Having said that we both sit on the fence, we both remain outsiders in a world that increasingly dismisses those that don’t belong, fit in. A time in which conservatism, radicalism and the far right are on the march. It’s a frightening moment in history and one that makes this series so relevant. Here’s what she has to say about the project:
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. The house within culturally stayed European but outside was the Israeli controversial culture. 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.
Due to the migration of my family from England to Israel that history discontinued, and therefore I find it hard do consider it as mine. In order to regain my history I’ve appropriated images, along with ones that I have made myself, and edited them into a book titled ‘cache memory’. The statement that represents the book is the definition of its title – cache memory. The decision to name the book and present it through this definition is handed down as recognition of what is hidden in photographs, coded and read through context; that photographs can unfold memories but not necessarily the same ones that were originally embedded in them.