I started gathering up old photos and postcards several years ago. About a month before I left Seattle, I was in a thrift store with my friend Rebecca. There I found nine boxes of slides. It is rare to find such a large set of related photos. Unfortunately, I had already started packing and gotten rid of my old slide projector. Rebecca and I never did sit back with a bottle or two of wine and look at someone else’s vacation. I haven’t taken much time, until today, to start going through them.
Who are these people? How did they decide to go to Morocco? Did they enjoy themselves? Did they come for a few weeks, a month, or longer? It is unlikely that they were on a tour, because there are no photos of tour buses. They obviously liked traveling. I have pictures of them on the Great Wall, at the Great Pyramids, in Oslo. I even think I have pictures of them with llamas in Peru. The boxes were slightly detailed, though sometimes obviously wrong. The slides are dated. When I left Seattle, I dumped the slide trays, forgetting about the slide order, assuming that there was an order. Most of these slides are still in Seattle.
Finding and buying other people’s photos always makes me feel a bit lonely. It reminds me of what a large, mysterious project we are all part of: how quickly we are forgotten and the bits of what we cherish dissipate. In found photos particularly, there is often a mundane quality that pleases me. The car hood in the landscape, a guardrail at the side of the road, our hotel rooms. Most of us never get close enough to the subject, or lucky enough, to shoot photos that hum with immediacy. There’s nothing wrong with that, it is the nature of our traveling through. It makes me anxious in my own photos, but in others, I am forgiving and curious. These photos, one after another, validate this and I can’t stop looking at them.
I am thinking of ways that I can make a mobile/chandelier out of all of these slides. If anyone has some ideas or tips on making lamps, please drop me a note.
Someone else’s vacation in Morocco