Buried Memories

Artist statement

The first time a newborn person achieves something human beings are expected to do, the people who witness the event often express awe, delight, and relief. Sometimes these events are memorialized in stories but at some point in everyone’s life, these memories disappear. Sometimes the story remains, but it becomes a kind of myth. When the witnesses die, these memories are buried in time.

“Buried Memories” is a memorial to this fact of life: the death of all memory.

Reading the book is meant to mimic the act of trying to retrieve memory. The words are intentionally made difficult to read and the images show the back sides of pages of the first felt book I ever made – pages that are now physically buried inside the completed book. Until now I was the only witness to these images. Now they are visible for others to see, yet what do they mean? Just as we wonder what our first breath, tooth, word, song might tell us about the person we turned out to be, the images in “Buried Memories” make us wonder what the story is that these images support. I printed them in the colour of dried blood as a metaphor for being alive, for surely memories are what make us feel we are alive.

The awkwardness of reading the book is meant to increase curiosity, to lead to wonder just what has been lost.

Book with felt envelope

Book with felt envelope

back of open book

back of open book

open book

open book

detail of verse 1-7

detail of verse 1-7

last verse

last verse

Text of Buried Memories Written by Leofwin Luke

1
I don’t remember
coming into the world
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

2
I don’t remember
drawing my first breath
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time.

3
I don’t remember
gasping my first cry
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

4
I don’t remember
getting my first tooth
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

5
I don’t remember
taking my first step
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

6
I don’t remember
speaking my first word
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

7
I don’t remember
chanting my first song
whatever there was of this
for me to have known
was buried in the skulls of others
in the memory of others
not in mine
no
not at that time

8
The others
who buried these memories of me
in their skulls
are all dead
what was in their skulls
has rotted away
disappeared
passed away
I am passed away
grieving in my memory
of this first death.

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