In the past, through foreboding cityscapes constructed of bodily and domestic debris or framing diaspora via eerily desolate ports, Allan deSouza has employed architecture as a vessel for systems of power. He has consistently destabilized and chipped away at fixed narrative structures and their role in the fabrication of identity.
The Lost Pictures is by far deSouza’s most personal body of work to date. Following his mother’s death in 2003, deSouza made prints of family slides of his own childhood that he exposed to the intimate wear and tear of daily life by placing them around his home in Los Angeles, including on the kitchen counter, bathroom floor, next to the sink and on a shower wall. In these new works detritus simultaneously adheres to and erases the image. As physical ephemera wash over and stain the prints, layers of the original information are drained from the surface. Alternately, the artist has painstakingly marked over his mother’s portraits, each mark sculpting his tribute while evoking her remembrance.
By inviting the present to inscribe itself over the images of his past, deSouza gives form to the allegorical link between photography and memory, exposing how both are deformed and transformed by time, collective narratives and the viewer/subject’s cultural and temporal perspective. By way of their mediated trajectory–printed and recopied, etched and stained–the final works directly evoke the essence of loss; delicately negotiated, however, with that which bears salvaging. In the process of questioning the camera and our ability to hold onto any moment in its original state, deSouza opens up a visual narrative space in which the past and the present can potentially coexist.