Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Maggie Nelson, my Mom, and my Aunt

Aug 03, 2020 - Gabriel Sacco

This section of Maggie Nelson's Bluets describes how writing (and art) injects or replaces human memories. I recently scanned these images of my mother and aunt into my own archive. The images were made before my time, but now I can remember the moments as if they are my own by thinking of them.


From Maggie Nelson's Bluets (pp. 76-77):


"190. What's past is past. One could leave it as it is, too.


191. On the other hand, it must be admitted that there are aftereffects, impressions that linger long after the external cause has been removed, or has removed itself. "If anyone looks at the sun, he may retain the image in his eyes for several days," Goethe wrote. "Boyle related an image of ten years." And who is to say this afterimage is not equally real? Indigo makes its stain not in the dyeing vat, but after the garment has been removed. It is the oxygen of the air that blues it.


192. Cyanosis: "a blueness of the skin due to imperfectly oxygenated blood, as from a malformation of the heart." As in "His love for me produces a cyanosis" (S. Judd, 1851).


193. I will admit, however upon considering the matter further, that writing does do something to one's memory-that at times it can have the effect of an album of childhood photographs, in which each image replaces the memory it aimed to preserve. Perhaps this is why I am avoiding writing about too many specific blue things-I don't want to displace my memories of them, or embalm them, or exalt them. In fact, I think I would like it best if my writing could empty me further of them, so that I might become a better vessel for for new blue things."