The photograph, which expresses non-being through its perception of chance, is also—and it is also unique in this—what puts us in the unmediated presence of beings other than ourselves: in the presence of their presence.
– From Poetry and Photography, Yves Bonnefoy. Translated by Chris Turner
Vestige is a unique and beautiful pamphlet that brings together images that reflect profound moments of loss. Together these poems and images provoke responses and ideas about the way life is transformed when a relationship ends, and how the grief caused by this loss changes ways of seeing home and relationships. It seeks to offer a dialectic of word and image, stasis and movement, familiar objects, and grief.
Vestige was first conceived as a multimedia exhibition curated by Thomas Dukes at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool. Initially titled, ‘Sleeping in the Middle’, the exhibition included AJ’s photographs taken during a period when his long-term relationship of 25 years was coming to an end with voice recordings of Pauline’s original poems written in response to the photographs. Vestige is a continuation of this special collaborative process and continues the response to autobiographical experiences between photographer and poet.
I forget every kiss we shared. Surely there were so few.
I forget often that I never loved you. Never held you like a vow between stone,
never stayed in the dark awake for you. The memory of you takes so little from me.
It’s as small as a peppercorn. How little I desired you.
How rarely I remember. How infinitesimal, the pain…
What people are saying about Vestige:
“Vestige is a book of shadows, ghosts, lingering presences and past feelings that resist forgetting. The force of the work pushes, like light, through the gaps between word and
image, reminding us that fractured meanings create their own kind of truth. The voices of Blake and Dickinson add to the dream-like clarity of A.J. Wilkinson’s photographs and Rowe’s poems take complete control of our senses; synaptic, aphoristic and imagistic: a testament to poetry’s power in transforming the unsayable into the unforgettable.”
Chris McCabe, Director of the National Poetry Library
“Roland Barthes foundational and seminal writing on photography and memory reminds us at once of the incredible power and fragility of both. In Pauline Rowe and A.J. Wilkinson’s Vestige, the power of place, object and word conjure up what it is to remember. In their photographs and words we unravel fragments of time and memory, beautifully expressed in the crease of a bedsheet, sunlight in a garden or an evocation of being shoeless in a clearing, whilst waiting for the sun. Pressed into the sparse pages of this pamphlet are the saved feathers of garden birds, the fading surfaces of home, dark secrets, dreams and desires, all inevitably culminating in a final exquisite image of a dark, oil slicked pool. Vestige is a gentle, and no doubt personal work, about loss, but reminds us of the universal power of the photograph over time, memory and death.”
Professor Paul Seawright, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Ulster University