Present Past – Photography as a Media of Memory on the Example of the Novel Restaurant Dalmatia by Jagoda Marinić

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Joanna Flinik


Migration is one of the most signifi cant existential experiences of the century. In her novel, Restaurant Dalmatia (2013), Jagoda Marinić goes beyond the typical dual narrative of migration, i.e mine-yours, familiarity-strangeness, now-then, with the individual as a point of reference. The aim of this paper is to focus on one of narrative concepts of the author of the novel – the medium of photography.

The protagonist, Mia Markowich, a daughter of Croatian migrants living in Germany, is in her thirties. After her leave for a scholarship in Canada, she decides to permanently settle down in Toronto where she gains popularity as a photographer. However, along with this success comes a crisis – the roots of which, as it turns out, reach back to Mia‘s past and her life in Berlin at the time of the fall of the Berlin wall and the Balkan war. It also happens to be a past that Mia is trying hard not to remember. And yet, suddenly, there appears her fi rst photo taken in Berlin by a Polaroid used in secret from her parents. Memories resurface as does the need to deal with the burden of her past. On her way to Berlin, Mia is more than aware that the picture she recorded
by Polaroid is a record of a mere fraction of some „here and now” from the past – that the photo is a reduced version of perceived reality known to her from the direct experience and it will never be a refl ection of the multidimensional way of experiencing space which, after all, aff ects and organizes our life and determines our actions – letting itself be known through many senses. It is, however, only now – when Mia is looking at this hastily taken photo – that she notices with her trained photographer‘s eye numerous details related to the fragment of reality she was observing then.

Here we touch upon another crucial aspect: the relation between (her) photograph with (her) memory. The special value of an amateur photo does not rely on the special quality of the form, but on the fact that it can evoke experiences, memories, atmosphere and smells. The special value of the photograph results from the fact that it opens up for the protagonist new senses and meanings so important in the experience of migration.


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Literary studies