UK-based photographer and consultant psychiatrist Andy Wiener has, over a 35-year career, explored the links between identity and memory, especially in the realm of family heritage. In his early career he used photographic masks to explore how the past shapes one’s identity, through a fusion of past and present.
In the series Visitation Scenes, he made photographic masks from the faces in a personal archive of old family photographs of his European Jewish ancestors. He travelled to places where these relatives had lived, and to Auschwitz where some had died, and asked people there to wear the masks. By doing so he created the illusion that these people had come back to life, thus posing questions around how family history and trauma threads through our present.
During lockdown in 2020 Andy began experimenting with a new canvas for faces from his past. Regularly walking in his local woodland in Hertfordshire, England he felt drawn to the mythology and mysticism of trees. What resulted is Ancestor Trees, where he again summons the spirits of his ancestors, this time as sentient inhabitants of an ancient English Forest.
ANDY WIENER was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, and now lives and works in the London area. He studied photography at the Royal College of Art between 1984 and 1986. His work is held in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish Arts Council. The work was purchased by National Museum collections, as well as being in solo and group shows that toured the UK and abroad.The investigation of the self, and the investigation of the unconscious, is a common thread that runs through his photographic work. His work has resonances with the art movements of surrealism and symbolism. WEBSITE
His books A Rake’s Progress and Love Scenes were published in 1990 by Cornerhouse Publications. The work was purchased by National Museum collections, as well as being in solo and group shows that toured the UK and abroad. Visitation Scenes was published in 2020 as a book by Dewi Lewis Publishing.
(Image credits: Sheila on Hazel Tree, Sheila on Oak Tree, Sarah on Beech Tree, Paul on Oak Tree, Erich on Yew Tree, Mary Ann on Sweet Chestnut Tree, Erna on Yew Tree, Marion on Ash Tree, Annie on Beech Tree, Gerald on Hazel Tree, Hilda on Oak Tree, Herman on Hornbeam Tree)