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Molly McCall, Home Movies

After collecting vintage snapshots for decades, I began to notice discarded home movies in flea markets and antique shops that grabbed my attention. The simple cinematic narratives in the found movies intrigued me as I wondered what made these occasions so important that they would be immortalized on film? The recordings of benign family trips, scenic skylines, and everyday life were so iconic and yet mysterious; the unfamiliar places and unnamed people seemed lost in their anonymity. I came to discover that each filmed story was a testimony to the past, loss, love, and memory — a memory that could be revisited over and over again and reanimated on demand.

In the series Home Movies, I am creating segmented imagery to explore connections between the passage of time, transition/transformation, loss, and memory. The seemingly spontaneous found images are reframed to reveal gestures of unfinished stories and convey memory in a narrative form. The series integrates my interest in art history, color theory, and found imagery, using photographic processes and today’s technology. Color and mark-making are also used to emphasize or diminish certain elements of the photographic image, similar to the deterioration and fading of memory and material things over time. Each print is toned with various solutions, and details are painted out or painted in, using oil and acrylic paints, transforming the vintage image through time as it is re-created in its new state, and in a new context.

My creative process is about searching, looking, and finding. It includes resurrection and reimagination, and it is slow, requiring time, waiting, and craft. I find images in junk shops, flea markets, books, and on the Internet, and then recapture them in my computer and print the new image in the darkroom. I love using all types of film with all of its fragility and flaws. In Japanese, the beautiful word natsukashii (懐かしい) identifies the feeling of evocative longing for something past—a yearning nostalgia that’s also very sad, as it reminds you that what you remember will never happen again. Film physically manifests this emotion in a metaphorical way, capturing a moment that comes and goes, then vanishes, leaving only the visual record behind as proof of its existence.


Molly McCall