LIGHT / REMAINS
2020 - ongoing
Light / Remains is a roving series of cyanotypes and poems made in places significant to me: wild places of the American West, towns and cities in Transylvania and Poland, remote wildernesses in Alaska, canyons in New Mexico… These works explore geologic and intergenerational time using light, found pigment, and found forms.
Each can be thought of as an x-ray of a place, a site-of: a momentary reflection of vast, ongoing temporal and spatial relations.
The primary pigment in the cyanotype process is Prussian Blue, which is made of prussic acid. Prussic acid is also part of the chemical makeup of Zyklon B, the lethal gas used to kill prisoners in Nazi death camps. “Zyklon” translates to “cyclone”; the “B” stands for Blausaure, “blue acid,” synonymous with prussic acid. Some of the death camp bunkers bear traces of the same arrestingly vibrant blue that characterizes cyanotypes.
All four of my grandparents survived death and labor camps during the Holocaust. Both of my grandmothers, Rosalie and Olga, survived Auschwitz. These paintings are a record of ongoing intergenerational trauma and grief. They are also tokens of transformation, records of attempts to shift that trauma. They are each, in this way, a prayer, a trace, an homage, an elegy.
The series began at a residency in the mountains of northern New Mexico, where I was helplessly and utterly enchanted by the light. This was light unlike any I had previously known, light that articulated the world precisely and without omission, as if enunciating for a child learning a new language. I was that child, learning the language of the place, falling in love with its forceful and graceful presence.
Cyanotypes are made via a photographic process that relies upon sunlight. The sun is my primary collaborator on this project. I also collaborate with the varied animacies — pigments, stones, wings, plants, branches — that are collected in the places where these images are made.
The sun and the land and the pigment and the memory of all of these things, alongside my own memory, made these images. They are barely-stilled transitions. Like light, they feel like they might shift at any moment.