Friday, October 17, 2008

Dave Baldwin, self-portrait, 1971

My dad took this picture of himself the year he took off from college and lived in Vermont. When I applied to Wesleyan my grandmother, Mimi, told me two things: one, to join a sorrority and two, to avoid 'getting lost' like my father did when he went to the same school. I'm sure she dissapproved of my father's lumpy wool sweater, his black combat boots, facial hair and pony tail-- but I love them and I love this picture because it shows me things that my father would never think to describe.
I've always been fascinated by the stories of my parents lives before me and before eachother and find the backwards stitching of my figuring out their narratives is really amusing and a process of constant revision. Inspired by my posting on the 13th (my mom's birthday) I've started a project in which I'm trying to write down everything I know about my parents until their meeting each other, which I pinpoint as the genesis of my own history of how I came into being. It's a project about writing and learning and information flow and memory, but which will eventually include infinite revisions as I remember stories, do research over the phone with my parents and figure out better ways of making the chronology more seamless, coherent and true.
I had a funky crit on Wednesday that left me seething and I'm still not totally sure why. I guess it was funky because I felt people were criticizing my visual vocabulary instead of giving me suggestions of how I can make my vocabulary speak better. Afterwords someone in my class came up to me and told me that she liked what I was doing but wished there was a way to include the stories and anecdotes that I tell when describing where I come from. And so this project was born. It will tell (I hope I hope) the stories of people dear to me through an incredibly fallible human lens-- of how I remember what I've been told by my parents of how they remember things happening a long time ago. I mean really, the information has gone though so many transformations-- making the gravity of words so much more epic, heavy and laden with intent, which is, of course, how everyone tells stories, whether they mean to or not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a +