'After before' is a documentary project consisting from archives of family photographs, interviews and portraits of refugees, images of the family belongings saved, double exposure images and collages; all focusing on the engagement with the losses of the past. These events happened back in 1974, but their effects continue into the present. Therefore, the focus also stances on the overwhelming inherited memories that are dominated by narratives that preceded one' s birth or one's consciousness with the risk of having the ‘generation after’ life stories displaced by their ancestors.
Can other people’s memories become our own?
And what are the second generation's responsibilities to its received memories?
Loss of family, home, of a sense of belonging and safety in the world, ‘bleed’ from one generation to the other. Refugees can retrieve lost histories; memoirs about lost family histories, the popularity of roots-seeking journeys and organized trauma.
According to author Eva Hoffman (2004), “the guardianship of the Holocaust is being passed on to us. The second generation is the hinge generation in which received, transferred knowledge of events is being transmuted into history, or into myth. It is also the generation in which we can think about certain questions arising from the Shoah with a sense of living connection”.
Children of those directly affected by collective trauma inherit a horrific, unknown and unknowable past that their parents were not meant to survive. Second-generation fiction, art, memoir, and testimony are shaped by the attempt to represent the long-term effects of living in close proximity to the pain, depression, and dissociation of persons who have witnessed and survived massive historical trauma. They are shaped by the child’s confusion and responsibility, by a desire to repair, and by the consciousness that their own existence may well be a form of compensation for unspeakable loss (Marianne Hirsch, Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust, p.34).