HANNAH SWEENEY

My present paintings are inspired by passages from Sigmund Freud’s writings on ‘The Uncanny’, particularly the unheimlich, a term he refers to throughout the essay. The unheimlich translates from German as the unhomely. Freud elaborates on these terms as being ‘the familiar with the strange’. In my paintings, I am trying to explore the idea of the unhomely place. ‘Homely’ would mean a place that is meant to be familiar, close, warm. The homes I paint are taken from my collection of photographs from the mid 20th century that I have been accumulating. These photographs most often amateur snapshots depicting domestic and banal scenes of suburban homes and interiors, void of human presence. The homes within the images feel unknown, unfamiliar, distant; Being from a distant time that has past and from a place that would physically distant and unknown to us.

 

I have been thinking of the concept ‘post-memory’. Post-memory is how the act of displaying photographs together intentionally can create a certain narrative and storyboard behind the images, to be read a certain way by the viewer, creating a false memory in their mind. I find strange elements within the images that i am drawn to, for example, a door left ajar or a dent in some bedding; These such elements that indicate something has occurred within this now empty space. I want my paintings to propose a mysterious narrative and inspire the viewers to ask questions regarding the spaces depicted. 

'Why is there nothing when there should be something? What happened to produce these ruins, this disappearance? What kind of entity was involved?' - Mark Fisher  quote from The Weird and the Eerie (2017)