Creative and crime scene photography: staged patricide and matricide as screen memories in Aida Chehrehgosha’s ‘To Mom, Dad and My Two Brothers’


Aida Chehrehgosha’s award-winning photography series To Mom, Dad and My Two Brothers (2008) in which the artist controversially stages the death of her abusive mother and father is examined in this essay as exemplifying a form of screen memories — a conscious psychodynamic strategy, introduced by Sigmund Freud, employed here to both expose and heal traumatic experiences. Challenging the dominant views in trauma theory and psychoanalysis regarding the role of visuality vis-à-vis narrativization, I claim that in Chehrehgosha’s series the visual works both to indicate the trauma as well as to point to its overdetermined, complex nature. Moreover, the photographs are revealed to be palimpsestic and hybrid in their implicit photographic gaze, blurring the line between scientific and aesthetic uses of photography, legal and artistic discourses, fundamentally questioning the experience of being a victim and a criminal. As such, the artwork is understood as a unique and complex photographic way to represent and address painful experiences and mixed affects — a palimpsestic approach to screening trauma.