Immigrants, Memory and Photography “The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery” by Katherine Govier
Outline • General Issues: • City on three levels • Immigrants, memory and photography • “Immaculate Conception”: Starting Questions • Sandro as an immigrant; • Different Views on photography; • Sandro’s changes • The author and her words
racial and gender relationships; immigrant ghettos identity: initiation, parents, religion, death, trauma, mask, passion, value. history –portrait in “Canvas of Time,” and the wall and confession in “Le Confessionnal.” concept city vs. lived city; (Lion) rational planning vs. disordered, multiple spaces (utopia vs. heterotopia) (“Mislaid”) invisible cities (in culture, of history) and imagined communities (“Daybreak”; newspapers) Issues related to a CityCanadian Individual General
Immigrants, Memory and Photography • Immigrants: permanent sojourners, 花果飄零 and 落葉歸根? a potted plant? with an empty luggage?“We have floated upwards from history, from memory, from Time.” (Rushdie, Shame 70-71) • Memory:「不在乎天長地久只在乎曾經擁有」Permanent, unique and genuine? A process of reconstruction? Like watching movies? “The past is a country from which we have all migrated” (“Imaginary Homelands”)
Immigrants, Memory and Photography (2) • Like cars and newspaper, it is a sign of modernity; (Cf. Govier’s words); like T.V. and movies, it is part of contemporary visual culture. • Evidence of identity & memory/history • photorealism mechanical reproduction http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/photorealism.html
Photorealism? • by Close, Chuck 宋七力光明本尊散放光明照片 Pictures don’t tell you everything. http://sunsite.dk/cgfa/c/c-9.htm#close Lucas, 1986-87, oil & pencil on canvas
Starting Questions • Why do the customers want to have their photos changed? • Why does Sandro disagree with it, but then keep on doing it? What types of moral judgment does he make along the way? How do his wife and his drunkard-friend Becker respond to them? What does Sandro do at the end? Would you keep on doing it if you were Sando? • What have these changes to do with immigrant identities in a city? • How else do we “fix” our memories? Or survive bad memories?
Sandro and the immigrant community • modern, adventure, no religion p. 126 vs. village, religion, and close-knit community. P. 127; 135 • gender bias
The customers Photo is “forever” Alicia’s Punishment p. 129 want good memory, worth the price 130 Mostly family photos; adding in a brother 131 Sandro’s Like a plastic surgeon 128 Existential questions about life vs. things, 131 Creator/murderer p. 132 Different views of photography & memory • His wife/friend • Lie; • Things and survival; • Factual and practical responses.
Reasons for Sandro’s Continuing the job of changing photos • machines – 131; • curiosity – p. 131; • prayer 132; curiosity, challenge, compassion, greed.
The customers Diora—denies the past Sandro’s Feel “god-like” Keep a file 133 Cannot wipe people out Different views of photography & memory (2) • Becker • Art and money • No standard.
The changes in Sandro • skills improved; getting more machines; • "Are we here just to have our photograph taken?“ • See himself as God, making and changing human bodies and communities p. 133 • See himself murderer, keeping the bodies. P. 135 • love indifference, ill at home—dangerous and unreliable? • erasing himself and going west. (the author’s words)
“Immaculate” Conception • machine-made memory and identity • causing concern, compassion or indifference? • How else can we do? • Picture-taking as a ritual.
born in Edmonton, Alberta. has lived in Calgary; Washington D.C. and London, England; now in Toronto; studied English literature at the University of Alberta and York University; Writer of 6 novels and 3 short story collections currently vice-president of PEN Canada. The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery.Toronto: Little Brown Canada, 1994. Katherine Govier
The West • We discuss the West, where she says people are more clear-eyed, pragmatic and energetic, and don't waste their time on pretence. Every now and then, her husband says, "Oh, you're doing your Alberta thing again," she says wryly. "But the West is indelible in me - the light and the land and the magnificent people that I grew up with." • http://www.canoe.ca/JamBooksFeatures/govier.html
Photography • "Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery," the story was the first major piece that I wrote that anyone ever saw that had to do with photography.And then of course the novel, Angel‘s Walk, about a photographer. • I love photography. I think it's the art form of the 20th century. It's just endlessly fascinating to me. I like the fact that it's about light. I like the fact that it has to do with stealth and pursuing and capturing. In other words, I like the process. I like how it's made. http://www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/govier.html