BOOK REVIEW: INHERITANCE BY ANDREA TESE
Published by Steidl, Inheritance is an exclusive collection of 73 photographs (2010-2012), replicating Tese’s journey as she cleaned out her grandparent’s house after their deaths. Grouping the accessories of daily life into grids and piles, Tese creates engaging visual compositions of personal possessions. Pots, pans, shoes, newspapers, documents, tools – everything tells a story, allowing viewers to dive into the everyday routine of author’s grandfather.
©Andrea Tese. Shoes.
“A piece of jewelry may be kept. A birth certificate may be saved. A painting may be hung on a wall. But this sentimentality is as temporary as the person who displays it. Even photographs that seem to stick around for generations, in albums and frames lurking on mantelpieces, lose their relevance as the faces in them become increasingly unrecognizable to progeny that never met them. These strangers are then banished to the obscurity of a box, or worse, the trash heap. Our ancestors become clutter,” writes Tese.
©Andrea Tese. Grandma's Lists.
Demonstrating a significant degree of engagement, Tese not only manifests her own being, but also shares carefully selected objects and intimate moments, beautifully frozen in time. Inheritance is not just about the objects marking the late man’s identity – it’s about the continuation of someone’s existence, the hope of immortality as well as an acute reminder of death. Offering a complex personal and cultural narrative, Tese directs a masterful transformation, inviting us to wander through someone’s life without being noticed.
©Andrea Tese. Newspapers.
“I decide to photograph everything. I will make an inventory. I will document. In this way nothing will be discounted. This is my grandparents’ collection. It should be acknowledged,” shares the author in her foreword to the book. “Holding each piece in my hand, examining it, finding the right place for it, balancing it, making the installation whole, I can focus on the task at hand. I can create something from this destruction of attachment, this breakdown of meaning. I can give these objects new life, if only within the rectangular frame of an image.”
Inheritance presents an aesthetically straight-forward yet elaborate body of personal research, both unashamedly sentimental and intellectually stimulating. Digging deep beneath the surface, revealing an ephemeral nature of existence, Tese invents her own visual universe. Although the most important things in life are not things, they have memories, just like we do.
Text by Kelly Korzun