Résidence Astral / Marjolaine Ryley
Marjolaine Ryley explores family relationships across generations and countries in Résidence Astral, an exhibition of photographs spanning twelve years.
Since early childhood, Ryley has been a regular visitor to Résidence Astral, the third floor apartment in a quiet street in Brussels that is the home of her grandmother. In 1993, Ryley began photographing the apartment and its 1970s furnishings that formed a background to family get-togethers, a process she continued for twelve years. Her images of domestic details explore both the comfort and familiarity of the family home as well as feelings of claustrophobia and ambivalence that many of us experience towards it.
Some images show the aftermath of a major fire in the apartment building in 2002. Ryley says, “Looking through the soot covered apartment as we cleared and cleaned, we began to uncover layers of my grandmother’s life: her wedding dress; her jewellery; a swimsuit not worn since I was a child”. Whilst a fire could have destroyed her family history, in this case it provided Ryley with an opportunity to recover and to excavate the past. These objects, loaded with memory, are displayed alongside Ryley’s own photographs.
In an age when we share our family photos online and rarely print them, virtual albums are replacing the traditional shoe-box of treasured family snaps, letters and souvenirs. Ryley questions “how will we examine a legacy left on-line, a personal collection out there in the ether”?
Résidence Astral was developed as part of a research fellowship at the Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) at London College of Communication. The work was further developed in collaboration with Street Level Gallery, Glasgow. Résidence Astral was part funded by The National Lottery through Arts Council England and The University of Sunderland.
About Marjolaine Ryley
Marjolaine Ryley has exhibited both nationally and internationally including solo shows at Harbourfront Arts Centre, Toronto and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland. Work from Résidence Astral is included in the collection of the V&A. Her publications include Villa Mona: A Proper Kind of House by Trace Editions and Field Study 7 - Résidence Astral published by PARC.
Her research website www.thelastpictureshow.org looks at the effects of digital technologies on family photography.
She is currently Senior Lecturer in Photography and Video Art at the University of Sunderland. www.marjolaineryley.co.uk
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