PDN Photo of the Day

Remembrance of Things Past

Photographs usually focus viewers’ attention on moments frozen in time, but the photographs of Linda Foard Roberts draw attention instead to those two eternities beyond the frame: the past and the future. And they do so with a deep sense of melancholy over the march of time, and its inevitable ravages. “The future is promising and holds only half of my gaze, as the other half is looking in the rearview mirror, at the life that will never come to pass again. A once anticipated future is now a string of memories held in the dim light,” Roberts writes in one of the philosophical asides of Passage, her new book published by Radius Books. In another, she quotes Richard R. Powell: “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

Roberts’s work reflects the influence of photographers such as Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin, both of whom she also quotes in the book. Passage is organized in five different series—“Passage,” “Grounded,” “Simple Truths,” “Alchemy,” and “Becoming”—with 10 or 12 images in each. They include portraits of her parents and children; still life images of family ephemera and once-living things such as moths, bones and flowers; and photographs of trees (particularly gnarly old oaks) and overgrown landscapes around Roberts’s home in North Carolina. Through the photographs she explores themes such as life and death, decay and renewal, and the traces of lives lived in mundane objects such as a worn travel bag, a shattered violin, and an old jar full of wishbones. Her use of a large format camera, with old lenses, long exposures, and imperfect technical control is only fitting: The resulting distortions and motion blur heighten the “remembrance of things past” feeling of the photographs, and add an essential element to their vitality. —David Walker

Related Stories:
Sally Mann in Cy Twombly’s Studio
Celebrating William Christenberry

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Fine Art


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  1. rich article. your words and her words I see the photos without seeing them. but oh a joy of comfort seeing them.

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