Fall Out – a Frame Tale of The Forgotten…

Fall Out – a Frame Tale of The Forgotten… is a series of interconnected installation works threaded to personal memories of intergenerational trauma. From a performative engagement with the cold ‘archive’ to the warm and uncanny embrace of everyday objects, I explore the question of how affect can be immanent to matter. The echoes of the deceased are felt through the presence of the vernacular and reveal a haunting truth. Simon O'Sullivan notes that 'art might well be a part of the world, but at the same time it is apart from the world,’ and that this 'apartness however theorised, is what constitutes art's importance.'[1] This changed my perception and the way I began to view the familiarity of these objects. I transposed this thought into how intergenerational trauma filters through everyday objects that have had a direct relationship to the ones being remembered. And how this can be an encompassing thread to the fragility of the natural world in which we live.

These redolent site-specific installations pull the threads of intergenerational trauma to the fore through material investigations of the paternal and maternal. (Although for the sake of this article I focus on the maternal). My previous methods of making have served as an invocation to internalised themes of felt absence in the direct relationship to my ancestors.  This is evident in a preliminary work, where I have reworked family heirlooms. I was able to investigate the intimate space of memory. This exploration occurred through the materiality of these readymade objects: in this case, my grandmother’s wardrobe and my mother’s dress. The wardrobe without its doors provides a solid frame to hold the embodiment of memory of an absent mother. The bottom drawer is slightly open, bridged by the placement of the gloves: emotive in the sense of touch, alluding to the threshold of emotional presence felt through absence, allowing for affect to work in a reflective form beyond representation.

 Sonara Krix,  Threads of Wood & Blue,  2016, Colour Poster Print, 84 x 59 cm.

Sonara Krix, Threads of Wood & Blue, 2016, Colour Poster Print, 84 x 59 cm.

The subsequent text by Jean-Luc Nancy, in The Ground of the Image, was a visceral key of encounter that enabled the next chapter of my present making to begin.

The word imago designated the effigy of the absent, the dead, and more precisely, the ancestors: the dead from whom we come, the links of the lineage in which each of us is a stitch. The imago hooks into the cloth. It does not repair the rip of their death: it does less and more than that. It weaves. It images absence. It does not represent this absence, it does not evoke it, it does not symbolize it, even though all this is there too. But, essentially, it presents absence. The absent are not there, are not "in images." But they are imaged: their absence is woven into our presence. The empty place of the absent as a place that is not empty, that is the image. A place that is not empty does not mean a place that has been filled: it means the place of the image, that is, in the end, the image as place, and a singular place for what has no place here: the place of a displacement, a metaphor ... [2]

My evolving awareness around the intensity of what I was feeling from these unlocked memories, and the notions of affect became a driving force to create a sense of tangibility within these spaces. This led me to Gaston Bachelard where he writes in the Poetics of Space that 'the space in which one looks, in which one examines is philosophically very different from the space in which one sees.'  He makes reference to these spaces as holding aspects of 'the secret psychological life.'[3] This perception acted like a key-hole, enabling me to explore the psychological aspects of my own experience with intergenerational trauma.

 Sonara Krix,  Fall Out – A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #1,  2017, vintage dressing table, found objects, 140 x 100 x 50 cm.   James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

Sonara Krix, Fall Out – A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #1, 2017, vintage dressing table, found objects, 140 x 100 x 50 cm.  James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

In Fall Out – a Frame Tale of the Forgotten #1, #2 and #3, I was to translate how I relate to the natural environmental narratives and transpose them  within the realm of Bachelard’s ‘psychological’. My research took me from a collection of the dead (birds, bats, rats, and insects) to the seeds of life. The potentiality of encounter is in direct juxtaposition: from the intensity of the domestic object to the fragility of the eggshells. (Reworking the family heirlooms to create a stage for story telling). Within this sensibility, I have also tried to translate these findings to the placement and arrangements in the drawers of my dressing table installation.

This can be seen especially with the drawer full of ‘Father Christmases’, (scotch thistle seeds). For these delicate seeds allude to captured wishes, and how when I was young I believed in the power of these little wonders of nature. I thought they could change my current reality, if I just trusted in something bigger than myself. These wishes of promise would come true and save me from the life that had been imposed on me due to intergenerational trauma.

 Sonara Krix, detail:  Fall Out – A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #1,  2017, vintage dressing table, found objects, 140 x 100 x 50 cm.  James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

Sonara Krix, detail: Fall Out – A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #1, 2017, vintage dressing table, found objects, 140 x 100 x 50 cm. James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

The aspects of these two works were complex and highly evocative for my working process. As the assemblage of the collected artefacts emerged and came to the fore of my own inner dialogue, the power of these objects became more distressing, and I began to really feel them become something other – something inherent in the materials, emotionally immanent in matter.

This experience had a direct correlation to the expression of the affect of intergenerational trauma, felt through the duality of absence and presence, as I sought to communicate the affect of the unseen or unspoken. A ‘frame tale’ is ‘an embedded narrative, a story within a story’, which provides readers ‘with context about the main narrative’ or ‘act[s] like a link that connects many stories together’.[4] The wardrobe and dressing table drawers (these inner spaces) gave a place for these ‘frame tales’ to act as the transposition of past memories and the way I translate these aspects of strong lineage of the matriarchal line. These works are loaded with nuanced affects alluding to emotional deprivation, neglect, addiction, and the conglomeration of the affect of family patterning.

 Sonara Krix,  Fall Out - A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #2,  2017, vintage wardrobe installation, 200 x 170 x 210 cm.  James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

Sonara Krix, Fall Out - A Frame Tale of the Forgotten #2, 2017, vintage wardrobe installation, 200 x 170 x 210 cm. James Field photography, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

Fall Out – a Frame Tale of the Forgotten #3 is a video work that explores the affect of absence and presence. Where I have taken the narrative of my mother’s passing, and transcended it into visual thought. The 1968 Volkswagen becoming the stage of an eluded reenactment, as my daughter wares the dress from the first image. Thus becoming a vessel of intergenerational trauma, and convey a metaphorically created space that elutes to the threshold between life and death. I invite the viewer to ponder their own sense of mortality and a pawned state of how family patterning plays a part. The slow motion evokes a haunting stillness amongst the inner chaos. This creates a space for questioning the spatio-temporal rational in direct connections between object and subject and how they can become immanent to matter.

 Sonara Krix, still from  Fall Out - a Frame Tale of the Forgotten #3,  2017, 00:03:51.

Sonara Krix, still from Fall Out - a Frame Tale of the Forgotten #3, 2017, 00:03:51.

This video work will be on display at FELTdark from the official opening on the 2/05/2018 to the 19/05/2018. I will be present on the opening night and happy to discuss my art practice.

Sonara Krix


[1] Simon O'Sullivan, 'the Aesthetics of Affect: Thinking Art Beyond Representation', Angelaki Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Volume 6, Number 3, (December 2001), 125-135

[2] Jean-Luc Nancy, The Ground Image (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005 67-68.

[3] Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics Of Space. (France: Beacon Press Books, 1958), 74.

[4]  Kate Prudchenko, 'What Are the Effects of a Frame Narrative', The Pen & Paper, (Leaf Group Ltd.),    < https://penandthepad.com/effects-frame-narrative-1733.html>, accessed 10 Oct. 2017.