As Claudia Starkey delves into the memories stored in her mind, she takes us on a journey through her personal and family history, creating a surreal and abstract world in her series “Fragmented”. Each photograph in the series is a blend of personal photos and inherited family heirlooms, ranging from the 1920s to the present day, all of which explore the complexities of how the brain processes memories.
The images in “Fragmented” are both familiar and puzzling, forcing the viewer to engage in natural pattern recognition while also presenting them with a puzzle that assembles and re-assembles to create unexpected views of a dreamlike world. The layered photographs draw the viewer into a microscopic incursion, revealing small but meaningful worlds of abstraction upon closer inspection.
Starkey’s journey into creating “Fragmented” began with the realization that the mundane moments of living were where real art could be found, where the real story could be told. Memories from different years and experiences came together to create images that conveyed the emotions and concepts that she felt passionately about, much like the disorganized synapse of a neural network.
Starkey’s childhood memories of cameras were fraught with fear and a sense of intrusion, yet she eventually found solace in using them to capture small moments of life that would have otherwise been forgotten. Her early experiences with cameras were varied, from using her friends’ Russian Zenit or Smena cameras to discovering a black room full of photographic paper and developing chemicals left behind by the previous owner of her home.
As she continued to explore her love of photography, Starkey began to see her own face in a few art exhibits, but remained more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. Living in Romania during a time of transformation, Starkey witnessed the raw expression of uncensored voices that emerged after the fall of communism.
From this newly discovered freedom of expression, many artists in Romania began to explore new forms of creative expression, and Claudia was no exception. She continued to pursue her passion for photography, but her work began to take on a deeper, more introspective quality. She was drawn to the surreal and the abstract, as she sought to capture the complex nature of memory and emotion.
In her “Fragmented” series, Claudia takes the viewer on a journey through her own memories, as well as those of her family and ancestors. The images are a blend of the familiar and the unknown, the mundane and the fantastical. They are at once personal and universal, as they tap into the common experiences of love, loss, and the passage of time.
One of the things that makes the “Fragmented” series so powerful is the way in which Claudia blends different images together, creating a dreamlike quality that is both haunting and beautiful. The images are often layered on top of each other, creating a sense of depth and complexity that is reminiscent of the workings of the human mind.
At times, the images are reminiscent of a Rorschach test, with shapes and patterns that seem to shift and change depending on how they are viewed. This is intentional, as Claudia wants the viewer to be an active participant in the creation of meaning. Each person brings their own experiences and memories to the images, and the way in which they interpret them will be unique to them.
Through “Fragmented”, Claudia Starkey invites us into her surreal and abstract world, where memories and personal history blend together to create a new reality. Her photographs are deeply intimate objects, holding a piece of the subject’s life and breaking into the fabric of time. In the end, “Fragmented” is a journey of catharsis and self-discovery, touching on subjects of broader interest such as the environment, nature, love, life, and death.