Saying that Robert Hutinski lives and works in Celje sounds like a worn-out biographical phrase. Nevertheless, this is an important fact. Just like most other projects, his Family Album series stems from the city and the stories of its inhabitants, turning them into a photographic narrative with its own language that is both global and universal.
Perhaps the best way to define the Family Album series is by calling it ‘the culture of memories’.
In the confusion that reigns between the author’s perception of the collective memories of the environment carefully preserved in the archives of the Central Library of Celje and the assortment of personal tales of those who entrusted him with their pictures, a new tale and a new family album are being created. The family in this case is the stories and memories of the people who found themselves in one place at the same time. These interwoven fates, which found themselves in the grip of the dynamic modern history, create a mosaic of the new historical memory, where the author’s subtle manipulation of the diptychs shows the individual trapped between their personal and collective identities. Memories, of course, are essential to establishing an identity. The author’s brilliance, however, is showcased most clearly in the fact that Hutinski not only shows the creation of identities through the expectations of the dominant ideology, as shown in the portraits of uniformed me, nor in the dominant cultural environment, as shown in the portraits taken at important life events, but pays equal attention to forgetting, the intentional destruction of memories. It is in our nature, both collective and individual, to sweep under the rug that which bothers us in certain situations.
The series, therefore, is also about the culture of forgetting, of deleting the unwanted.
The Family Album series is thus a confrontation between the memory and the loss of it, and the author’s reflection on this confrontation. The black and white diptychs, materialized in their impression of a moment, nevertheless tell the story of an era. The carefully picked memories, as well as their destruction, are in fact the black and white world that remains in our consciousness. It is said that memories fade, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that memories slowly turn black and white, causing us, both as individuals and as a society, to only remember the whitest and the blackest events.
Each of these photographs, therefore, is waiting to be remembered by someone, waiting for someone to either categorize it, worship it, or delete it from their ideology of perception of memories. Every click of the shutter that ever produced a photograph therefore presents a new source of recording the public subconscious. Hutinski very deliberately picked one of these.
– Text by Borut Batagelj