Three winters ago Anne Erhard’s father unexpectedly passed away on a journey far away from home. A journey which, like all journeys, he was meant to return from. His untimely death was distressing to his young daughter but at the same time it reminded her how fragile human life is — we never know when or how we will meet our demise. The only certainty is that eventually, we will.
Death is a question of containment. For a long time, attempts at understanding felt like trying to empty the ocean with my cupped hands. The very idea of it escapes, spills over into all the things we will not know. Death is the water of a river that can’t flow backwards.
Her ongoing body of work, The Image of a Place (currently exhibited at Ambika P3, Baker Street, London as part of the Westminster University MA end-of-year show), was born out of an immense sense of grief, loss and perhaps displacement. Our parents create us, bring us into the world, nurture and protect us for the first few years of our lives, and, if we are fortunate, they are there for us even after our eighteenth birthday. They provide us with support, guidance and reassurance. Losing a parent, especially one who was neither old, nor ill, must feel unsettling at best and earth-shattering and disorientating at worst. It’s an experience we should all be prepared for as it will happen, sooner or later, but the fact of the matter is that we can’t until it actually occurs. Nobody, not even us, can predict what we will go through once we lose that person, but also that bond and connection to another human being, that unconditional love that had been there for us since the day we were born, and most likely even before that.
To Erhard, the project is a monument to her father. Some photographs are crystal clear while others are hazy, blurred, covered in blemishes — dust, scratches, light leaks. Just like life, so ephemeral, hard to grasp and even harder to keep hold of.
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