SITUATION #24: Seiichi Furuya, Mémoires, 1978–1985
5 December 2015 – 31 January 2016
In 1985, Seiichi Furuya’s wife of seven years, Christine Gössler, committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness. He had been photographing her regularly since they met in Austria in 1978, creating an informal, but intensive portrait series. After her death, Furuya began to explore Christine’s memory through his photographs, sometimes re-photographing earlier printed images. He went on to publish a series of books about her, with volumes appearing in 1989, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2010, each titled Mémoires. As Furuya once noted, “I started off trying to clear up things that were mysterious, and by doing that, I ended up calling forth even more mysterious things.”
Furuya’s photographs and photobooks construct a response to his wife’s vanishing, at once intimate and intricate, a form of recall that is layered and shifting over time. His work is a reiterated re-viewing of the past, testimony to the always unfinished nature of memory. His books also evoke a vanished history – that of the Cold War that so structured their lives – as well as the disappearance of analogue photography. Transcending any simple sense of autobiographical narrative, Furuya’s photography is a kind of mental and visual reprocessing of the past. Subtle and impassioned, the very act of retrospection becomes the subject of the work.