Don’t Save/Save

Julia Spicer & Jon Cairns

The piece uses as its starting point a box of orphaned photographs: a set of images to which we have only the most tenuous links. A lot of the images have no historical resonance for us, are beyond recall, are denuded of a context that would give them sense, other than those generic categories that might help us sort them (‘seaside trip’, ‘Syd with car’, ‘family pet’). We scrabble around for dates penned on the backs of the pictures, try to read clues in album captions. We glean what we can, but in the absence of proper knowledge, what’s the rationale for keeping them? Barthes suggests that we hang on to things to acclimatise ourselves to death: hanging on to them allows them to live through a “decent interval of dim agony”. But agony can’t be the only way…

Jon Cairns/Julia Spicer

February 2008