Three Daughters, Three Quests, Three Legacies
Feel Memory tells the stories of three daughters who go on quests to uncover their parents’ mysterious pasts. Each story speaks to the universal and elusive nature of remembering and forgetting.
Karen believes her alcoholic father, a World War Two veteran with PTSD, never loved her. When he dies and she has to write for his memorial; “every thought I had, every memory I had of my Dad was painful and disappointment.” She decides to investigate his past. In researching the pieces of his early life, she connects his experience on the battlefield “at age 17 fighting for his life,” with her own on a football field in Michigan at age 17, “fighting for his love.”
The earth shattered for Victoria when she was 4 years old and her father came home on Mother’s Day and revealed that he was gay and HIV positive. He kills himself 2 days before her 11th birthday. At 23, her confusion about who he was compels her to revisit the past for answers. She goes on a dreamlike journey to reexamine her memories: “I had been carrying my father around throughout my childhood and my early adulthood. And I couldn’t bear that weight for the rest of my life.”
In 5th grade, Rebekah inadvertently stumbles upon the fact that her mother lived through the Holocaust, realizing; “I had opened the door to this room that I wasn’t supposed to enter.” Ten years later when her mother is dying of cancer, she reveals heartbreaking stories about her life during the war. Rebekah searches for clues to her past in an attempt to reconcile the mother she knew with her tumultuous childhood: “There’s a sense of unreality that this person who had a certain kind of a life in New York City married to my father with her three kids and with her coffee cup in the morning could also have lived through such trauma. Most of the people that she loved died in terrifying circumstances. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.”
Feel Memory combines live action, archival recordings and interviews with each daughter whose memories are portrayed in magical realist hand-painted animation, with colors that drip, layer and bleed into each other. The moving paintings are a visual metaphor for the act of remembering. The animation gives a vivid and visceral experience of what it is to remember and to be haunted as well as enriched by our memories.
Memory is the story we tell of how we become who we are. Scientific research shows that we can use the dynamic nature of memory to unshackle ourselves from our pasts. When we reshape our memories, we can change who we are and open up to wider possibilities of who we might become.
Can Karen, Victoria and Rebekah build fuller pictures of who their parents were, reshape their memories of them and in doing so, summon the hope and courage to envision their own futures?
Viviane’s short film, See Memory (distributed on Amazon), has already had a profound impact not only on the art world, but on viewers that have suffered from PTSD, on whom memory has been life changing. Victoria, Karen and Rebekah’s stories traverse the globe from Sacramento to New York, to Cambodia, to Stockholm, to Paris, Poland and Michigan, as they find new pieces of self-discovery along the way. Bringing this visual narrative to the screen includes hours of painting, filming, editing, interviews and enactments. Please help us add to the conversation by supporting this new work, Feel Memory, that speaks to the universal flexibility of memory and how it impacts the lives we live.