I try to resist strong attachments to physical things, yet I experience a visceral reaction when I lose something that has meaningful associations. In creating Immemorial I wanted to examine such attachments and find others who also hold onto personal possessions so tenaciously. I asked my friends and family to share these items with me as well as their stories and explanations of why these objects are important to them. I then borrowed the chosen objects so I could photograph them in the context of a still life.
During the time I’ve been working on this body of work I observed that all of us hold onto things and invest meaning in the things we possess. What varies is the degree to which we do so. I am most intrigued by objects that represent a person’s legacy, a memory, or a way to hold onto people after death. They may be symbols of life lessons, for example; the gold brick belongs to a photography teacher for whom it represents a good picture, development, potential, and one’s contribution to the earth. The teacher awards it to a student. The baby teeth were given to me by a seven-year-old girl; while a seventy-five-year old women offered a lock of hair from her three-year-old daughter who is now forty-one.
In trying to visually represent the experience I had with these objects I first asked myself to reflect on the experience of collecting them. Surprisingly, this process was very intimate. Private moments were confided to me; I listened to stories about loved ones and was entrusted with items that were very special. I felt as if I were listening to secrets from the past. The treatment of the photographs reflects my experience of hearing these personal stories. These objects became characters on stage performing a narrative.
These objects serve as footprints or markers in one’s life. They have been kept as part of one’s possessions over a long period of time and are special and powerful to each individual. Some objects are used as part of altars, or are tucked away in paper bags in drawers. These objects become part of the individual and are tangible embodiments of a personal memory.