The photographic series Ça-n’a-pas-été (album) investigates the construct of the family or personal photo album and the series forms an early response to research into the subject. I came to study forms of self-(re)presentation and readings of personal or family photographs through this project, so to emphasise what Barthes discusses as ‘social games’ (2000 11), and the practices of editing, selecting and presenting the photographic images (as results of these ‘social games’ and conventions).
I also appear as the main subject [as a main subject, any main subject], having photographed myself in a range of different places – in a domestic space, travelling, getting married – using a long shutter-release cable. The shutter-release cable is visible in the resulting photographs, as I wished to place emphasis on the construction of not only the images in Ça-n’apas-été (album), but in any personal or family album. This project was also where I could begin to explore how one presents oneself to the camera for images intended for the album, including the presentation of oneself for oneself and of oneself to possible others.
This initial research came together in an installation entitled Ça-n’a-pas-été [this/that has-not-been],and consisted of three elements: my made-up personal album Ça-n’a-pas-été (album), created using a long shutter-release cable visible in each photograph containing a human subject, a slideshow of actual family photographs from which I had crudely myself cut out, and a set of domestic furniture severed in half, seemingly cut off by an imaginary viewfinder. The title of the exhibition was a play on Barthes’ concept of the ça-a-été (this/that-has-been); what Barthes defines as that which one cannot contest in photography – that what Barthes calls the ‘necessarily real thing’ (2000 76) was positioned in front of a camera at a point in time, making the photographic image ‘a certificate of presence’ (ibid. 87), yet the actual or material quality or character of this recorded presence of a ‘real thing’ cannot be certified. The title of the exhibition hence alluded to and further reinforced the idea of the constructed qualities of family and personal photographic albums.