THE OBSESSION WITH FORGETTING HAS BEEN CENTRAL

Curious about the problem of identity, I decided to photograph myself every day for a year. I was interested in when I would forget. The obsession with forgetting has been central. Having forgotten my mother, what she looked like, what she was like, how she treated me before she died when I was twelve, is still an abiding concern, though I have a much stronger sense of self now. But in 1972, not remembering meant, to some extent, not having existed, having to create a self without a foundation and trying to raise a daughter without remembering having been a child.

Using the Rolei on a tri-pod, I started, changing the focus each month. It was important to let my unconscious, rather than my intellect, dictate the progression. At one point, I realized that if anyone got close to me, I wanted to cover my face, so the March images alternated between close-ups of the body and the face. In the final set, I printed a pale gray square to represent the days that I forgot to take pictures.

– from the series Self Portraits by Melissa Shook, 1972-1973

 

 

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