Memory Building (2020)

Time changes everything. That cliché became painfully relevant for me after my parents died within a few months of each other, forever changing my family structure. The unconditional love I received from them throughout my life was now gone. I was left with only their physical possessions and my memories of our lives together. Their possessions included a well-organized archive of family photos.

In this series, I projected those vernacular family photographs onto the surfaces of my childhood home. By juxtaposing the photos from the past onto the present-day walls, I unearthed 60 years of engrained memories and tried to capture my family’s vanishing history that once permeated this house.

My parents’ house exemplifies the post-war ranch homes built in newly created neighborhoods across the United States. They decorated their home in the Early American style popular in the 1950s. (Some now refer to it as Coloniawful.) They lived in this house from the day they were married until their deaths—from their 20s to their 80s—and much of the original furniture they bought remained in the house throughout their lives. Their stability provided me a solid foundation for my upbringing.

Constructing the projected tableaus made the memories more tangible for me and comforted my grieving. With so many formative experiences rooted and intertwined within this building, saying goodbye to it was also saying goodbye to my parents. Even as the rooms were literally whitewashed in preparation for new owners, my memories continued to resonate within the walls.

“By casting projections of her family members onto the walls of her childhood home, Annette LeMay Burke evokes the poignancy of memory. In 'Rumpus Room,' a group who once gathered together welcomes the viewer, cutting through the linearity of time.” – Jacqui Palumbo, Writer + Producer @ CNN Style