Catherine Panebianco reflects on the character of personal memory

Reading Period: 2 minutes

Panebianco pictures her father’s old photo slides against her current places: “It is a literal meeting of past and present, but there is also the idea of extension, and the past shaping the present”

Every Christmas growing up, Catherine Panebianco’s father would bring out a box of glides and gather the whole family to see them on an old projector. “He’d set up an ancient display in our living room, making it a meeting with popcorn and pyjamas, and all visiting relatives will be required to tell stories about the slides, ” she recalls. Images of family vacations and boat trips, feasts and beloved pets might flicker before them as they watched, reminiscing together. “It was an important part of our family’s history and a consistent memory from a childhood where we moved a lot. This annual tradition made every single new place we landed into a home. ”

Right now 58 years old, and located in Jamestown, New York, Panebianco provides released a photobook influenced by these slides, titled Holding Time . It all started five years ago when her mom was reorganising the save. They found a glide of her on a fishing boat on Newboro Lake inside Canada. “Generations of our family members have vacationed for over a century, ” she says. “I had the idea to take the slide down to the river where I live now and do something with it. As I played about, holding it up, I noticed the backgrounds lined up properly, melding my past plus present. ”

In each of the images in Holding Period , Panebianco repeats this action: holding up her father’s old slides against her current locations. “I generally choose the image very first and then I decide exactly what backdrop might work. Quite a few were very easy because they were the same locations, while others took more work to find something that spoke to me, ” the lady says.

Alongside the particular images, Holding Time also includes a number of small, story-like texts, written by Irene Alison. The result of many conversations, these types of vignettes are a combination of each women’s memories and observations about family life. “I like to call it ‘lyrical nonfiction’ with a smattering of misinformation too, ” the professional photographer explains. “I didn’t need it to be just about my family. I needed anyone to be able to read Irene’s writing and think of their very own family memories – like a more universal story, because family is an universal idea. ”

We have all, at some point, thought about a scene and already been reminded of something, using a vision of the past appearing to us for a time or two. That’s the particular spectral nature of memory space. What Holding Time really does is reflect that trend through the effective visual technique of rephotographing photographs.  

“It is a literal meeting associated with past and present, yet I also think there is some thing to the idea of continuation, as well as the past shaping the present, ” Panebianco says. “I think that with all the craziness in the world today, remembering that past decades have gone through similar situations and survived it, pertaining to future generations to experience this in their own ways is really a comfort. ” 

Holding Time by Catherine Panebianco is published simply by Yoffy Push .

Joanna Cresswell

Joanna L. Cresswell is a writer and editor based in Brighton. She has written on photography and tradition for over 40 international magazines and journals, and held positions as editor intended for organisations including The Photographers’ Gallery, Unseen Amsterdam and Personal Publish, Be Happy. The lady recently completed an MA in comparative literature and criticism at Goldsmiths College, University of London

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