Many people collect old photographs for their nostalgic qualities. These images offer windows into special moments in time, immortalized in c-prints. Artist Catherine Panebianco used her family's collection of personal vintage slides in an introspective photography series entitled No Memory is Ever Alone. Through it, she connects her parents' lives with her own by placing the old slides in front of locations where she resides now.
Most of the images from the series feature Panebianco's mother and father in an array of different landscapes—from forests and lakes to interior scenes. “No Memory is Ever Alone is a visual conversation between my dad and me,” the artist tells My Modern Met. “He used to bring out a box of slides that he photographed in his late teens and early 20s every Christmas and made us view them on an old projector on our living room wall telling the same stories every year. It was a consistent memory from a childhood where we moved a lot and I never felt like I had a steady ‘place' to live and create memories.”
“I realized that by placing the slides in my current landscape, I created not only a connection between his life and mine but a trail of memories, each that had its own association for both of us,” Panebianco explains. To do this, she sought places where she currently lives in Jamestown, New York, that resemble the locations depicted in her family's slides. Many of these matchups result in an uncanny likeness between her parents' past and Panebianco's present. In a couple of the photographs, for instance, the artist manages to unite the head of a dog shown in the slide with the body of a similar-looking dog in the modern landscape. This visual unity of the past and present creates a dialogue between Panebianco and her parents.
“A lot of these slides are of my mom, they were together almost 60 years,” the artist continues. “She passed away recently and I feel like her spirit, and all the spirits of the past, are around us. These little vignettes of family life in my current ‘space' comfort me that she and others are still near, watching over me. They create a ‘home' for me wherever I go.”
Panebianco's series has received critical acclaim. No Memory is Ever Alone was named a Top 50 Finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass, won 1st place in the International Photography Awards for Fine Art, was a finalist for the National Photography Awards for the Texas Photographic Society and a San Francisco Bay International Photography Competition Portfolio Award.
Scroll down to see more images from No Memory is Ever Alone, and visit Panebianco's website to learn more about her photography practice.