Using the conventions of the still life genre, this project examines the thesis that accidents are not necessarily ‘accidents’. Drawing on the parapraxes that Freud called ‘the psychopathology of everyday life’, the photographs record domestic objects broken by the author. ‘Bungled Memories’ challenges the assumption that the still life genre picture is purely ‘formal’ and the pictures draw attention to the social and cultural significance of the domestic field. Written captions alongside the photographs give clues to hidden (unconscious) meaning. The work also refers to fragments of paintings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, the French painter championed in the late C18th by Enlightenment critic, Denis Diderot. The photographs were taken during the period 2000-2007. Each object was photographed on the same kitchen table in still life compositions using local light. Research covered psychoanalytic theories of accidents and memory, and the history, theory and practice of the still life genre, drawing on collections at the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay (Paris), the National Gallery and Wallace Collections (London).
The photographs were published in Portfolio magazine accompanied by an essay on them by psychoanalyst Parveen Adams (Issue 42, 2005). They were also published in a special issue of philosophy and critical theory journal Angelaki, (Routledge, Volume 7, no 1, 2002); exhibited in Hobusepea Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia (February 2004); and included in group exhibition Diderot co-curated by Bate at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, London (January – February 2005). The series was exhibited and discussed at the conference ‘Psychoanalysis and the Arts and Humanities’ at the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies (November 2006). A final set of all the photographs (now twelve) will be exhibited at Hooper’s Gallery, London, in early 2008 to coincide with the publication of the complete series in book form published with Danielle Arnaud.