Helga Fannon is an Icelandic-British moving image artist. She makes films that draw from her own disparate family histories, creating tender and often beguiling links between these and other narratives, both found and imagined. Working from an expanding collection of voice, performance, and text material, her current film practice explores questions of performativity through playful stagecraft combined with visual illusions whilst exploring memory as a creative act of personal reinvention.
Helga Dorothea Fannon
In my films, I enjoy playing with the surreal and the unexpected. I’m thrilled by the research process and strive to find a playfulness even in the most serious of topics. I tend to work closely with words and writing, I find a lot of inspiration from poetry and autofiction. I think the charged simplicity of poetry, the way its vividness substitutes our need for the visual and tangible, has an immediate funnel-like effect on my practice.
I keep returning to trying to unravel the need to understand my roots, to tackle the displacement and the need to preserve memories, to wrap them up in eloquence whilst delivering heavy truths. How past traumatic instances can be remembered and lived within the present, and allowed to transform to something new. In the end, we are memories in a constant act of performance.
For this project, I worked from an archive of family photos recovered from a stash of negatives that had remained forgotten for over 35 years. They had all been taken within a two-year period. At times near a hundred were captured in a day. Then they were left, not to be looked at until I rediscovered and printed them a year ago.
This photo archive documents my own first encounters, as a newborn child. Those encounters, moments, and scenes, which I could not previously visualize due to the slippery nature of memory. Today, by going through the process of looking at the photos, scanning, trying to read into those “frozen scenes,” I am finding an endless amount of inspiration, like stepping on a bridge to the unknown, to a mysterious time, once lived but now open to the endless interpretation and warpings of recollection.