SOLO PUBLIC EXHIBITION FORTHCOMING
Forthcoming: The photo exhibition "Summer Abandoned" will be presented in the State of Nebraska Governor's Residence Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska, with support provided by the Nebraska Arts Council.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” — Carl Jung
An exhibition of black and white pinhole and altered camera photographs of faded summers, and an essay.
Summer Abandoned: A Meditation on Memory and Forgetting is a collection of prints made from black and white medium format film negatives produced with handmade pinhole cameras and altered cameras*. The pinhole and altered cameras, create photographs less real, more dream-laden than photographs produced by more advanced technological means. The portfolio/exhibition seeks to be both intimate and introspective in its depiction of memory.
You’ve no doubt heard about someone having a photographic memory, but memories, as some photographs, are not always clean and focused. They are marred and blemished, they have blurred and undefined areas, they drift in and out of awareness and clarity. These images are flawed in some of the same manner as remembrances. In this portfolio/exhibition the film edge of the negative has been left intact to remind the viewer that this is an analog-based image and that memories have secure borders, there is a limit to the information available. A short essay of the same name, “Summer Abandoned: A Meditation on Memory and Forgetting,” accompanies the portfolio/exhibition and is printed below.
*A few of the altered camera effects I employ to make my images: Clear tape and white dry erase markers to create filters. Cloth threads to achieve soft focus. Placing pinhole and other cameras in clear bags and then sometimes using vaseline to achieve soft focus and vignette. Using old reading glass lenses as filters.
Summer Abandoned: A Meditation on Memory and Forgetting
Memories are pinholes. Glimpse one and try to peer through. What light there is casts shadows, moves water-like, slow and thick. Here is a world far less fixed. Here are things blemished and uncertain. Everything is familiar, but nothing is clear. Try to keep your focus. Examine where you are but don’t expect to find anything useful.
Feel how alone it is here. There is a freedom in that. No one is looking over your shoulder asking what you have found, or why you have come. Look around all you want. You may think you can stray, but the borders of memory are well-defined. Remembrance can only go so far.
Be patient. Remember, you don’t need to find anything. You could, but as I said, that may be futile. Most of the time memories find you. Have confidence that after one passes another one will suggest itself, and after that, yet another. Observe how they come and go. You don’t need to ask why. You don’t need to ask if they are true. You don’t need to ask if they are yours. You know well the answers.
There is something else here that I must warn you about. You might think you’ve found something meaningful, some clarification, but that can be a kind of trick. You might think you have hold of something, but it is only a shaft of light across your face. Turn toward it, and it is gone, dissolved. See how elusive and fragile this can be. That is the pain of it. Of all people, I do not need to explain that to you.
Don’t be tricked into thinking there is nothing to fear. There is great happiness in remembering, and great heartbreak as well. Be prepared for the fact that you harbor memories of regret, grief, perhaps terror. It is healthy to acknowledge their existence but do not dwell upon them. When they rise up, receive them, then avert your attention. Bow your head. Cast around for something that gives you joy. I know you. I know what you’re made of. You won’t have to look too hard to find that comfort.
Here is another strangeness. Some memories are for the long term, and some for the short. I know you understand this, so I must caution you not to stay too long in the land of remembrance. You are advised to remain a casual visitor. Don’t let them try and keep you here. You know people, people like that, people that journeyed here and could not return.
Yes, there is danger in remaining too long. Soon you will need to go back the way you came, back out the pinhole and into the world. You marked a trail to follow, didn’t you? I should have told you at the start to mark a path. You’ll want to be able to leave, but more importantly, you’ll want to be able to return.
Understand, you allowed yourself to visit here. Be glad in that, for there are those who do not have that pleasure. They have been banished through no fault of their own. Have you spoken with them? If so try to lead them here. At times they are able to go and return with ease. Other times they are unable to find their way in or out. They try, but nothing is familiar. They get lost. They get frightened.
As I said, there is great happiness in remembering, and great sadness as well. But there is a more considerable sadness in not remembering at all. I don’t need to tell you there are those that suffer and find remembrance difficult. Surely you know someone. Look into their vacant eyes, they need you too.
They will reach out to you. Take their hand and lead them where they need to go. They will want you to remember with them. Sit with them. Listen to them. But here is the strangeness, after a time they will want you to remember for them. Yes. I need to repeat that. They will want you to remember for them.
They will ask you to tell them about the house they lived in, where they went to school, the names of their children. They will ask if their Father is still alive, though he may have passed decades ago. Yes, names. Names are their touchstones. They hunger for names. They may even have to ask your name, though they have known you their entire life. They desire to hear the litany of the dead and gone. Recite the names for them. Show them photographs, those sacred relics of remembrance.
Remember for them. You must. Tell them their stories. But prepare yourself, for over time, you will witness how the memory dissolves. Hopefully, the change is gradual and slow.
Witness how their past may flash bright and heightened on some good days. That is the shaft of light I spoke of early on. Pay attention for the briefest moment, and you may see a flicker of recognition cross their face. Most days will be filled with emptiness. But beware, in the end, there is only the blank stare, the silence, and the heartbreak.
The voice of who we are is temporary. Truly. Remember while you still can. Retain, retain, the slender light of your brief days. Document within yourself what has come and gone. Dream outward, as well as inward, of the events that are unique to you, those momentous events that linger in a place deep inside.