Between accumulation and repetition, the work of Lara Baladi highlights a process that evokes the passing of time. Her project “Diary of The Future” (2008-2010) reveals the intimacy of a family’s story. The project started in 2007, when her father returned to Cairo to end his life where he was born. During the last six months of his existence, friends and family took turns at his bedside. The artist preserved the memory of these visits to the bedridden father. She formalized it through a ritual, particularly documented and filed using photography.
This ritual consisted in reading the coffee grounds that came with an earlier tradition, the Sunday lunch, established a few years before by Lara’s grandmother. With the return of her father, the ritual gradually became an integral part of each visit. The artist thus gave visitors precise instructions suited to the Turkish coffee ritual. She meticulously consigned the cups of each guest and photographed each one of them, consequently testifying of their presence – as in Roland Barthes’ concept of “that was” that qualifies the prime function of photography.
The central piece in this project, Rose, summons the individual and collective memory through the composition of a work whose geometrical shape, referring to the old fashioned model of a middle-class interior, recalls that of the lace table mats of our grandmothers. It subtly connects the Eastern arabesque and the popular iconography. The figure of the cherub, the representation of love or the image of death can all be seen there. Witness of the fugacity of each present moment in which the clear-sighted projection of the future already lurks, beyond the transcendence of death, this collage expresses the continuity of life.
Translated by Valérie Vivancos