This is the third installment of my PhotoBomb Series, in which we look at the trope of photographic intrusion and distraction among a selection of contemporary artists.
We are here deep within the family archive of Moira Ricci, a Tuscan visual artist whose work – often autobiographical, combining technological invention and popular image – investigates individual and social identity, family history, and homeland. With her series 20.12.53–10.08.04 (2004-2014), namely, the birth and death dates of her mother, the notion of the photobomb acquires cathartic nuances.
After selecting a substantial number of vintage family photographs of her mother, she digitally intrudes upon these images with her presence, so plausibly and subtly that she seems to have been there at the very moment they were taken. It is an attempt to encounter her mother virtually at various moments of her life before her sudden death. Despite the plausibility with which Ricci inhabits those images, coherently dressing up in keeping with the trends of each epoch, she prefers to appear on the quiet, observing her mother while remaining an extraneous figure, almost behind the scenes.
Her uncanny presence softly subverts Roland Barthes’s concept of the photograph capturing the “this has been” of reality, opening up a ghostly and fictional scenario reminiscent of William Mumler’s 19th century spirit photographs. There is not, however, a sense of melancholic nostalgia in Ricci’s revisiting of these photographs of the past; rather, there is a yearning to manipulate reality’s spatiotemporal dimension and erase distance, with the liberating aim of investigating her mother’s past in relation to Ricci’s own present and origins.