Lantern Review: Issue 5

The Hybridity Issue

Esther Lee

from Daughters of Celluloid

Artist's Statement

In this book-length project, tentatively titled Daughters of Celluloid, I investigate familial memory and the legacies of political trauma. By investigating the “unconscious optics” of family photographs, the novel provokes questions about the ways in which we are constituted in the space of family and how power is deployed or contested in them.

Namely, the narrator finds that her mother’s past suggests traumatic narratives from the Korean War. Memories are discontinuous, underscored by missing photos in family albums wherein large swaths of time and space have seemingly vanished. As a result, the narrator attempts to photograph her mother, grappling with how the camera can both fix and unfix them. As mother and daughter work to reframe the conventional plots that threaten to embalm them, they become unlikely co-conspirators, disrupting their unspoken ways of looking and complicating the myths of familial memory.