Friday, January 14, 2011

suzanne mejean

The still photographs taken alongside Suzanne Mejean’s Still Here film documentary feature the subject of the documentary--the flat daddy. Flat Daddies are life-size cardboard cutouts of military service members ordered by their families so that the families can have the service member around, in attenuated form, while the family member is deployed overseas. As such, both the photos and the film speak not only to ideas of loss and memory but of our relationship to images as stand-ins for the real thing.

What’s key in the the images Suzanne and I chose for I Heart Photograph is not the memory but the failure of the flat-daddies to be adequate stand-ins; rephotographed in a variety of conditions, the flat daddies seem more like markers of absence than a useful kind of presence. The way each family uses its flat daddy is explored in more depth in the film, but in Mejean’s work the flimsy nature of the flat daddy photos, the difficulty of having a relationship to them and by extension the tenuous nature of memory and presence all come to the fore.

You can see more of Suzanne's work here and here.