Marcel Proust and Siegfried Kracauer—the former depicting vividly what the latter achieves to theoretically describe—both related on the portrait when they reflected upon photography and remembrance and both decided that a photograph can never hold the essence of our beloved ones. That essence being the “person's actual ‘history’” according to Kracauer. “In this history, all characteristics and determinations that do not relate in a significant sense to the truth intended by a liberated consciousness drop out.” (Siegfried Kracauer, Photography, in: Critical Inquiry, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Spring 1993), pp. 421-436, p. 426) It is what Kracauer calls the monogram of a person, whereas “the photograph is the sediment that has settled from the monogram, and from year to year its semiotic value decreases.” (ibid., p. 429)

So are we to dismiss all that ideas of meaningful portrait photography, of portraits not only depicting a person, but representing them? And how could a photograph possibly look like, that doesn't cover any personality at all? A photograph out of “The totality of all photographs [that] must be understood as the general inventory of a nature that cannot be further reduced, as the comprehensive catalogue of all manifestations that present themselves in space to the extent that they are not constructed out of the monogram of the object but from a natural perspective that the monogram does not capture.” (ibid., p. 435)

The following photographs try to explore if there are such photographs as described above or if the viewer himself engages with the photograph and—triggered by it—always already adds a history to the person depicted, might they be banned on paper just now or have long passed away.

Or even never lived at all.