Immersed in Archive 1.0019 – Monique Prinsloo

The role of time and its imminent disintegration, the loss of information, and the loss of memory itself becomes prominent when one considers an object from an archive, and my point of departure for the Saudade project was strongly influenced by this idea.

Considering the fact that I could not in any way authentically experience the events captured in the super 8 film from Archive 1.0019, I proceeded by focussing on the cutaways; sketching impressions from the film stills. These sketches became the driving force behind my monotype series for the Saudade project.

I decided on the monotype medium because of its key characteristic: no two prints end up being perfectly alike, and consequently it makes editioning impossible. So too with memory; two or more accounts of a single event can never be identical, however similar the narrative may seem. Furthermore, the monotype process perfectly aided in producing imagery from bold to ethereal; a distinct print to a ghost impression; and triggering the moment of remembering to forgetting.

One image in Archive 1.0019 inspired the colour of my monotype series for the Saudade project.

As I became more and more immersed in the cutaway moments of the film stills, I eventually sketched instances from memory and I found myself drifting away from the reality of what I have seen, towards an imagined reality. I continued to translate these memory impressions to various monotype prints. Finally I decided on a single imagined moment that resembled my memory image, which I then slowly and meticulously painted to the surface. But as I pressed on, pulling print after print, I noticed certain details disappear. I resolved to embrace the process of painting the image to the surface more freely and more spontaneously, letting go of specifics or details. In doing so, I recreated a single impression five times, each one unique yet similar, finally reaching one evocative impression. This final print of the five unique monotypes echoes the delicate characteristics of a “ghost print”, which so fittingly ties in with the idea of Saudade. 

The delicate balance between each of the five prints, and the richness in the loss of detail, has elevated each print towards an impression more evocative than the original. I could not have accomplished this had I not transformed my technique from a methodical process to that of taking on a more swift, yet earnest approach.

Milan Kundera beautifully exemplified this idea in his book Slowness:

There is a secret bond between slowness and memory; between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time. 

In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting. 

I find it so incredibly interesting; that in some way, the fabricated image has the potential to provide the viewer with an insight into a world that is nearly as authentic, dare I say richer, than the experience itself. I’ve titled this 5-part monotype series “The Second Day”, and this is the first part of my submission for the Saudade project.