Sebald refers to the books I’m reading by W.G. (Max) Sebald. I started reading Austerlitz. I haven’t finished that but I’ve moved on to The Rings of Saturn. I’ll go back to Austerlitz at some point. He’s interesting. I find myself wanting to relate his writing to the work I’ve been doing over the past ten years. Maybe I just want to be associated with his work, but maybe it’s more than that.
Sebald’s writing is steeped in memory, the loss of memory, Selective memory, decay, change, and the passing of time. His work usually involves travel. In the case of The Rings of Saturn the narrater walks through Suffolk, the English middle eastern seaside.
Both Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn contain black & white photographs that compliment various segments of the text. They don’t detract form the descriptive pros but add a further element of mystery to what– for me–are already rather nebulous works.
To me my photographic work is memory based. I’ve never been interested in shooting people directly, but I’m very interested in the memory of them or the possibility of them. There seems so much more narrative leeway without burdening a piece with an actual person.
Both the pieces above reverberate with footsteps. In the second image someone took an elevator journey to this floor from what I imagine was a construction area just to deposit something in the garbage can before getting back on the elevator and leaving a distinct path from the dust on their boots.
The empty space in the first image was Gallery Moos at Bathurst and Richmond. It’s now on College Street but I’m not sure who runs it since Walter Moos died in June of this year. I never went in this gallery, thinking it rather old school. I saw inuit sculpture on a plinth as I rode by on my bike once and I think that sealed it’s fate for me. I gather from his obit in the Globe he was a bit of a mover and shaker in the Toronto Art community. IN fact he really could be considered a bit of a pioneer having started his gallery in Yorkville in the late 50s. This Richmond Street shop was a truly abysmal location, you can see why the gallery moved to College. The interest for me was that this place was a gallery and now all that remains is the tired interior space punctuated by dust and scuff marks.
I think the image below is a physical manifestation of memory. I love construction holes for their invasion of the past. These holes are dug through years of deposit and dirt and history. I constantly look in these spaces and wish I could wander around inside on the floor of the excavation. I’d be immersed in the lives and deaths of so many. The shear volume of people that have passed over, interacted or lived in this space is overwhelming. If only I could get in touch with some company who digs these things out and get access.
My Sebald book is getting a bit dark. I’m in a bit that’s describing Nazi supported atrocities to the Serbian people during the 40s, Naval battles and the exploitation of the Congo by Belgium. So the caveat might be my that my work is more like Sebald light.