Statement

Richard Sexton + bio | statement | press | books

Memory Chambers

A constantly recurring theme in my work centers on the effect of the passage of time.  Other undercurrents run through it, of course, but this is my major preoccupation— the common thread.  Time has a way of scarring, mutilating, and transforming things, interrupting the present moment with reminders of the past.

Art commonly appeals to our emotions or intellect, but memory is what I find to be most significant.  I care about emotional and intellectual responses to my work, but I think this occurs predominantly through the conduit of memory.  Walker Percy has observed that what art really does is merely confirm what we already know.  I believe this is a fundamental purpose of my art.

Memory is an extraordinary human trait.  For me, the most compelling example of a lost soul is an amnesiac—a person with no memory and thus no connection to their past.  Without memory, each moment is as meaningless as the next.  Memory enables us to live beyond the present moment.  Our memories are recognition of having lived.

As a photographer, I am drawn to chambers, the inner sanctum of successive and, in many cases unrelated, human generations, marked by the passage of time and haunted by the human experiences they have sheltered.  These rooms symbolize our personal memory chambers, the fragments of our lives that we carry around in our head and that, from time to time, we relive with levels of exactitude challenged only by our fantasies—what was and what might have been mired in perpetual debate.

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