Memories of grandparents are above all childhood memories of old people. Yet what do we know of the time when our grandparents were young? They are our most personal link to a past that we only know from films and books. But how did our grandparents live and love back then? What exactly remains from a life?
In his long-term project Meine Grosseltern – Erinnerungsbüro (My Grandparents/Memory Bureau), Mats Staub pursues these questions by speaking with grandchildren and presenting their memories in a site-specific installation. This project has evolved into a continually growing international archive of subjective histories accompanied by a collection of photographs showing grandparents when they were young. The photographs include souvenir pictures taken by amateur photographers and ritualized photography aimed at capturing surroundings, people and objects in a certain moment.
For Meine Grosseltern / My Grandparents, Mats Staub brought together grandparents of different generations: The earliest born grandmother died in 1945—the youngest was born in 1939. They lived through the world economic crisis, war and expulsion, post-war reconstruction and modernisation. Mats Staub is able to draw the rudimentary biographical information and events from the many anecdotal memories of later generations. These life stories and pictures intersect, forming a web of countless empty spaces that spark the imagination.