Page 4 from The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
A couple of years ago, Daylight put out a compilation of essays, each one dedicated to a specific photograph that was never taken. Sixty-two essays submitted by sixty-two photographers, each one reminiscing on a single moment that got away, an impalpable light that was too exceptional to be captured in one frame. Of all the essays, only one has left an impression on me. Not to say that the others were not fascinating or interesting, as each scenario conveyed was always vivid, well written, and occasionally touching. But the one written by Kelli Connell has left its impression, just like a photograph, only hers are words; illusions described as liminal and fleeting seconds, those that only a photographer would remember; instants that have remained flickering in the ether.
Joachim Koester: »Message From Andrée«
»Memory has a spottiness,« wrote John Updike, »as if the film was sprinkled with developer instead of immersed in it.« There are moments when we close our eyes and a picture comes to us in pieces, bits of darkness hovering within the light as we wait for the whole image to illuminate. The act of remembering is similar to the act of photographing – it is the ability to capture a scene, to have an occasion leave its stain. Our mind waits for the light to happen, and so does the photographer.
The Moon and Precious Metals
I tend to be drawn to photographs of the outdoors. I relate to the landscape on a personal level because of my formative years in a rural town, and as a photographer I adore the works of Barbara Bosworth, Michael Lundgren, Laura McPhee, and Cheryl St. Onge, whom each have a sensitivity to place and often reveal how place has shaped them or their imagery. But when I came upon Brett Schenning’s Inheritance, my senses went on-end because the work is so intimate, literally so close to the eluvium that I felt my hands digging into the sandy soil of the southeast United States.
David Welch: »The New Farmers« as New Radicals
Every one of us has a distinct interpretation of home. Often though, it is the dwelling in which we feel the most comfortable, it is a second skin that soaks up memories, nutrients, and grows with time, made stronger or weaker, and protects us from the elements. A space makes up these dwellings, but a space in which stories are built, where plants are fed and reciprocate, becomes place, and a place is our home, it is near to us.
The fascination of memory occurs in specific places. It becomes grounded to a home, a landscape, a pickup truck, a motel; and while it is always hovering in the ether one can quickly emerge in the form of a kindred spirit. Like a star appearing at dusk or your vision as you step out into the sun from a dark room, it is something that is always there and can be issued from concealment. Matt Wilson’s photographs depict these moments as his past is always informing the present. His notions of space and place, landscape, identity, personal history, and memory all translate as different kinds of pleasures and freedoms.
Odette England’s »Thrice Upon A Time«, Empathy, and Worrying
I first came upon Odette England’s series, Thrice Upon a Time at the Museum of Contemporary Photography as part of the exhibition, Of Walking. I was immediately drawn to her images, which were large and lacerated, depicting the landscape of her family farm. Each photograph, printed full frame, was scratched or punctured, while some were so damaged that the image was entirely indistinguishable. Others were stitched back together, creating the appearance of a wounded field, or perhaps a root reaching towards the surface.
The Rings of Saturn
Over the next week I will be posting a selection of images by several artists whose work often deals with place and personal history. Though, I often find it difficult to write about those topics without contemplating W.G. Sebald and his wonderful hybrid of a book, which meditates upon travel, (auto)biography, myth and memoir, among other things. A historical expose, The Rings of Saturn is a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia, England. The narrator, whom simultaneously is and is not Sebald, reveals biographical features through his movements in space.