"Photographs supplant and corrupt the past." — Sally Mann, HOLD STILL

Thursday, June 4, 2015

As far back as 1901 Emile Zola telegraphed the threat of this relatively new medium, remarking that you cannot claim to have really seen something until you have photographed it. What Zola perhaps also knew or intuited was that once photographed, whatever you had "really seen" would never be seen by the eye of memory again. It would forever be cut from the continuum of being, a mere sliver, a slight, translucent paring from the fat life of time; elegiac, one-dimensional, immediately assuming the amber quality of nostalgia: an instantaneous memento mori. Photography would seem to preserve our past and make it invulnerable to the distortions of repeated memorial superimpositions, but I think that is a fallacy: photographs supplant and corrupt the past, all the while creating their own memories.

Sally Mann, Hold Still


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this luminous quote about photography and memory. Well worth thinking about and writing about. Looking forward to learning about your new work!

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