Nostalgia: Restorative or Reflective?

Svetlana Boym -

Svetlana Boym -

Nostalgia [ Nostos Algos ]

 I have started to think about other things that have informed by making up until now other than just simply 'memory'.

Maybe my image making is not informed by that of just memory at all? maybe its also informed by elements of Nostalgia as well. As Svetlana Boym suggests, Nostalgia can take one of two course - the Restorative and the Reflective. 

"A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images- of home and abroad, of past and present, of dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface" - Svetna Boym

Reading view - Anthony Prothero 

Reading view - Anthony Prothero 

I'm not entirely sure I completely agree with Boym's description of trying to fit nostalgia into a single image - nor do I see why anyone should want to do this anyway. I think of nostalgia as a feeling, something in the air when reminiscing of the past, of a place, or of home as Boym suggests, and the Greek roots Nostos Algos (Return home, longing) suggest. My work has taken on more, I feel of a concept rather than an aesthetic presence. The emotive response I have to the images I'm working with are not that of memory because the images don't aesthetically match to the memory I am assigning to them. As with the landscapes in my last series of Memoryscapes, these images I am making and selecting are the gateways to nostalgic times, to stories or memories that make me want to return to this moments if only for a split second. To feel the same feeling or converse in the same moment I remember. 

Boym goes on to mention many other points which I shall highlight if only in note form along with the ideas I momentarily thought when reading this text.

"..Nostalgia appears to be a longing for a place but is actually a yearning for a different time - the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams."

I am always looking back at childhood through the eyes of memory, or what I think is memory. I'm never entirely sure whether it is memory or imagination that is taking place whilst I make, edit, reorder and work with my images. But the idea that Boym asserts about the "nostalgic desire to obliterate history and turn it into a private or collective mythology" is something I am very interested in exploring, investigating and reading about. 


"Nostalgia is about the relationship between individual biography and the biography or groups or nations"

The relationship between my own images along with their collective memories, and the biography of the viewer who will see my photographs but think of their own moment in time to respond to my photographs with.


Now to the main purpose of this nostalgic rambling. Restorative and Reflective Nostalgia. At present I am not entirely sure how to explain where I sit amongst these nostalgic words succinctly but will try to explain my positions. 

Boym explains through tentative typology the differences between restorative and reflective nostalgia. Restorative nostalgia stresses on the home. and attempts a transhistorical reconstruction of the lost home. Reflective nostalgia thrives on the act of longing rather than the home itself. It is this reflective nostalgia I am going to investigate in my work and is a new area of interest away from what now to me seems like a mundane topic of memory. It is not to say  that I won't revisit the relationship between photography and memory in the next project I work on but for now I want to diversify my research to be able to see from a wider perspective about what my work is actually about, and the narrative I'm building around my own Identity. 

Reflective nostalgia calls into doubt the absolute truth that restorative nostalgia dwells upon. This absolute truth is something I am also going to think about more as my work progresses. Swirling around is also the ideas of how this fits into a public narrative and how the viewer can choose their own path to take whilst looking at my photographs. 

These ideas..... to be continued.



Boym, S. (2018). Nostalgia | Svetlana Boym. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jul. 2018].