Six years ago I bought D a box of photographs on ebay. It wasn’t a very good time in our life – lots of things were turning to shit and stayed that way for a long time. However, D got really into found photographs and so I bought him a job lot on ebay to cheer him up. I remember it arriving – a blue archive folder with the word “Clinical” written on the side. We tipped the hundreds of photographs onto the floor of our living room in Coventry and started to go through them.
Found photographs come imbued with a sense of nostalgia and loss, you can’t help but wonder who the people in the photographs are, feel the loss of a life lived and been and gone. As we went through them we realised that many of the photographs were from the same family, in Germany, during the Nazi period, the war, and afterwards. The same man appeared again and again – he is so distinctive, blonde hair with black-rimmed glasses and an ironic smile. We found so many photos of him that a story started to emerge from the photographs. There was a story to be told, even if it wasn’t the story of these actual people.
D decided to make a film with the photographs. It was to be a photo-roman, like Chris Marker’s La Jetée, but unlike Marker’s film the photographs aren’t staged. He worked on the final project in collaboration with Ben Rowley. I worked on the script (will save that post for another time). Here it is (best watched in a dark room on a big screen with the volume up loud: