Sigmund Freud believed that infancy and early childhood could have a great impact on the growing individual. In fact, as one grows older, he or she is unable to let go of unpleasant memories and the burden of old skin accumulates. Much of depression, anger and anxiety could be attributed to these significant experiences during the childhood. However, memories are not created just during the childhood but human beings continue to develop, modify and redevelop memories as they grow older well until Death.
The past clings to human experiences and it most often is difficult if not impossible, to let go of these memories. The past continues to transform and yet rein in the human mind and soul, and most often there is no escape from it. Past memories and experiences are like vile friends, and like vices. They refuse to let one go, and one depends on these memories for an identity.
When self-identities are built on memories and experiences as opposed to insight, people rarely progress further and stay in a regressed state, throughout their lives, perhaps until they reach their graves. Self-identity in itself is transient, and never the same. It continues to evolve with time and as a person continues with the journey of life. Perhaps, memories and experiences are inextricably related to what one is, and what one’s identity consists of.
Michal Hron is a 19 year old Czech artist who graduated from the Prague Photography School in 2008.A car crash in 2006 changed his view towards the world, and left a scar on his mind. The past scars leave undeniable footprints on his photo negatives. Michal was thus introduced into the world of professional photography at a very young age.
His photographs reveal the trauma of his past experiences and memories, and how he tries to stand on his foot after the near fatal accident. After having recuperated, Michal realized the necessity to move on and find a target he could aim to reach. Thus was born his ‘I, Photographer. How I see Myself”. The photographs are shot in a derelict and dingy room where the subject simulates the journey of life and the process of anchoring oneself in the experiences so gained or lost.
The mirror stands as a witness to the past and casts a shadow upon the present. Though the subject in the photographs try to complete a journey and break free from the past, the ghosts of the yesteryears haunt the subject, and in fact travel with him along his journey. Titled Auto Act, the photographs follows the journey of the artist’s insight about his existence, or the lack of insight in 16 different shots.
The first photo reveals the time he spent in his mother’s belly and the second his birth. The process of birth is the most traumatic for the child and its mother, though the world claims it to be a joyous experience. The child literally goes through an existential crisis, having to breathe on its own, face the elements and bear the brunt of the world after the long comfort within the mother’s belly. The third photo is all about memories and the experienced part of life. In the fourth, Michal gives freedom to himself and in the fifth, the depression sets in.
While this could be attributed to the unpleasant ghosts of the past, it could also be a fear of the unknown, the unknown and unforeseeable future. In the sixth photograph the artist seems to acquire self knowledge while in the seventh, the artist looks back into the past, like an addict. In the eighth photo he is pulled back into the past and is unable to move any further. However, the ninth, tenth and the eleventh pictures show the gradual improvement and a step towards self awareness.
An unseen force seems to help him in the thirteenth photo. It is quite interesting that number thirteen is associated with the unseen higher powers, for always number 13 has alluded to mystery. Perhaps, the revelation that the ‘higher power’ provides propels him to a deeper depression, a depression that is associated with changes in life. In the fifteenth he returns to the present, and in the sixteenth he seems to understand the meaning of life.
The understanding may not be intellectual, but a sense of satisfaction of being connected to the world. However, the past may haunt again and take him back into the realm of pain. The idea of fighting the past, making sense of the present and seeking the future with a target in mind seems to be the message of these artful photographs, and may also be the essence of life for many. However, dissociating oneself from the realm of time is an idealistic thought.
Courtesy Michal Hron