With the millions of photographs we take every day, have these images replaced our memories with idealised visions of key moments in our lives. Can we trust the history they tell? As part of the Florence Trust Summer Exhibition at London’s Highbury Fields, Matthew Humphreys – founding member of Threshold Studios – is revisiting his family albums and reviewing the narratives forced upon family history by the conventions of amateur photography to test the images he finds there against his own memory and to rewrite them.
Matthew Humphreys is fascinated by the depth of investment we give to the ordinary photograph – in its sentimental value and its emotional power. His work often stems from an investigation into an old snapshot belonging to his family he has found. Reimagining moments of tenderness from the past, he explores the photograph’s influence as well as its constraints. But though his starting point is personal, Humphreys effectively draws out universal truths from these familiar situations within his pieces ‘Memory Theatre‘ and ‘Performance for Photo Booth (Father & Son)‘.
Humphreys’ background in filmmaking has informed his recent progression from video to installation work at the Florence Trust. His experience with lens-based media lends him a unique approach that remains integrated with the concerns of photography and film. Humphreys creates a multisensory experience for the Summer Exhibition. His focus on the physical surfaces of our domestic spaces reminds us how effectively the textured wallpapers and velvet curtains of our childhood can tap straight into our subconscious. Objects recur inside and outside the photographs as he clones the flocked wallpaper background from a family scene and painstakingly recreates it.
Ultimately the constraints of the mechanisms with which we choose to record our memories frustrates Humphreys. Photographs fade and deteriorate and the light entering the lens never quite succeeds in capturing the true nature of a scene. His stance is critical. He questions the truth of photography and the moving image and highlights the falsifications it presents. Like the memory of events, our records of them fade and disintegrate.
The Florence Trust Summer Exhibition will open on Friday 1st July, between the hours of 6-9pm. The event will run until Sunday 10th July, 1-6pm daily or by appointment, with a collection of twelve artists’ work on exhibit. For more information, visit the Florence Trust website.