In August of 1988, my grandmother Eileen Garland moved into 1113 Aldea Ave, Ottawa, and discovered a set of photo negatives in one of the bedrooms. Naturally, she had them developed almost immediately and was given a collection of 24 images cataloguing a young persons’ drunken house party. Eileen did not recognize anyone in the photographs, and more confusingly, the interior of 1113 Aldea Ave does not resemble any of the backdrops in the photographs either – which include some classic 1970s finishes, like an absurdly vibrant wallpaper in what appears to be the kitchen.
So, we must wonder, who are these people? Where were they photographed? How did the negatives end up in Eileen’s house? And who thought to bring a camera, especially at a time when photographs were permanent, physical objects, rather than the digital files of today? And why did Eileen hold on to these photographs for more than 20 years? This collection of found photography brings forward notions of familiarity, memory, voyeurism, and distance. How do we make meaning from others’ memories, especially those that have been spatially displaced? Agency can be present in images regardless of the identities of the individuals shown, but how do we interpret this agency? How do we make meaning from the faces of those whom we do not know?
Erika DeFreitas’ artworks function to provide another perspective on familiarity and distance. Placing an emphasis on process, gesture, the body, documentation, and paranormal phenomena, she works through attempts to understand concepts of loss, post-memory, inheritance, and objecthood. These profound artworks, paired with the collection of 24 photographs, highlight the play between intended and unintended familiarity, comfort and dissociation, the unremarkable and the uncanny.