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Transgenerational Skin Archives: Family Photos and Identity in Change through the Practice of Archiving

Eryfili Drakopoulou


In the context of my master’s thesis , I researched family photographs as skin archives conditioned by the transgenerational transmission and used for multiple narrations of identity. Fascinated by the idea of identity being largely formed in relation to what has been transmitted through the family tree, without having been experienced by the descendant, I approached family photographs as traces of the past, and used the analogy of skin to manipulate them in quest for what can be recognized in the present perception of identity.

What became significant through my process and findings, was tackling the notion of fixed identity by locating its roots in the ancestors through their photographic archives, and engaging with the practice of archivization as a tool for alternative narrations of history. Unbounding the skin from the human body and releasing personal archives for public interventions, enabled questions to emerge regarding skin boundaries, spatiality, and common practices of family photography, and highlighted the significance of
collectively reappropriating personal archives as reflecting on a wider perception of history.

Supervisor: Fenia Kotsopoulou

External Mentor: Aimilia Balaska, Dr. Tara Fatehi Irani

Keywords: archiving, identity, reimagining history

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