In July 1971, poet Bernadette Mayer embarked on an experiment: For one month she shot a roll of 35mm film each day and kept a journal. The result was a conceptual work that investigates the nature of memory, its surfaces, textures and material. Presaging Mayer’s groundbreaking durational and constraint-based diaristic works of poetry such as Midwinter Day and The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, Memory also evinces her unheralded contribution to conceptual art.
Memory, published by Siglio Press and releasing May, 25, 2020, brings together the full sequence of images and text for the first time in book form. Originally exhibited in 1972 by pioneering gallerist Holly Solomon, it was not shown again in its entirety until 2016 at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago and then again in 2017 in New York City at the CANADA Gallery. For the exhibition in 1972, Mayer had over 1100 snapshots made from the slides, which she mounted on boards in the sequence in which they were shot, using handwritten cards to denote each day’s sequence. A six-hour audio recording in her voice of the entire text also played in the gallery. The text was also published in 1975, albeit without the images. This edition was made from scans of the original slides that are housed at the Bernadette Mayer Papers, Special Collections & Archives, at the University of California, San Diego.