fine-art dinner table: 20 places, laid with 19 originally print-shop wrapped fine-art prints of different trays of my father´s wrapped... Read More
fine-art dinner table: 20 places, laid with 19 originally print-shop wrapped fine-art prints of different trays of my father´s wrapped cold dinner. One place remains unlaid.
Throughout 2017 and continuing until today, my father´s memory has been rapidly deteriorating. At 82, he cannot report at noon what he'd had for breakfast. Despite this decline in his short-term memory, his long-term memory impressively continues to be just as sharp and robust as ever.
Against this backdrop, I have been visiting my parents’ house, where I myself grew up, on a regular basis. Even as I witness my father’s short term memory loss, an arresting observation has taken shape for me. There are some small, long-term traditions that have persisted as well as my father’s long term memory. The chief tradition is my mother preparing my father´s cold dinner every day.Regular as clockwork, my father’s cold dinner is prepared at about 3 PM, preserved in plastic wrap, and then set on a tray to be unwrapped at 6 PM. For as long as I can remember it has been the same. The same general menu. The same tray. The same plastic wrap. Daily bread, pre-served.How does my father experience this fixed pattern of action without the full aid of short term memory? What happens to things that we can not remember from the day before but we can assume happened because of its regularity; things that will surely happen again today, tomorrow, etc.?Like the plastic wrap that my mother has been using to seal my father’s cold dinner for at least 45 years, and like my father’s robust long term memory, photographs bear a similar capacity to preserve.My initial photographic preservation (alias dictus re-preservation, representation) of my father´s cold dinner tray turned into something else when his short-term memory loss occurred. I’ve never unpacked the prints that were developed – they too are preserved in plastic wrap.What happens when our mind can not preserve our memory any more? In the face of the impersistence of memory, is a persistence of tradition or a preservation of memory enough?