Human existence can be synthesized as some sort of patchwork, where we act as our own curators, collecting and archiving endless memories, as well as deleting some along the way.

What’s the role of memory in art?

This is the essence of the work of poet Bernadette Mayer. Her work “Memory” which she has described as “an emotional science project”, combines photographs taken by her along with lyrical and stream of consciousness-like written work. In July of 1971, Mayer photographed scenes of her life in New York City while maintaining a journal where she captured her impressions and intimate thoughts. The material transformed into the remarkable project called “Memory” and in 2020 we felt compelled to revisit it. As uncertainty stains the definition of our lives, leaving us without answers to where we are headed, Mayer’s work offers the possibility of constructing memories that one day we’ll look back into.

As we gather incomprehensible amounts of data through self-documenting, we are left with the question: what kind of memories are we building in the year of 2020? What are they made of?

Despite our attempts to define time through chronological order, the idea of what constitutes “yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow” is suddenly blurry, creating a single and long stream of feelings and experiences as we capture our lives. Bernadette Mayer did in 1971 what we do today: frantically collecting snapshots of all corners of our realities.

“Memory” exposes the correlation between images and text by questioning the temporality of these two mediums and their imperative presence. A landscape of nostalgia and longing for simpler times was built.

These are some of the photographs from Mayer’s “Memory” project along with excerpts from the accompanying journal.