Thursday, November 24, 2022

Bernadette Mayer | Memory

Bernadette Mayer
New York City, USA: Siglio Press, 2020
336 pp., 10 x 7.25"., hardcover
Edition size uknown

Originally published in 1975, Memory was long out of print and selling for between two and five hundred dollars on the secondary market, before the Siglio Press edition in 2020. This version features 1100 colour illustrations, while the original was strictly text.

The title was featured on best of 2020 lists at the New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, Cultured, Elephant and Ursula. 

Memory is available from the publisher, here, for $45 US. Also available is a signed and numbered deluxe version, in an edition of 31 copies. These copies are accompanied by a unique 6x 9 archival print housed in a vellum envelope inside the book. A second edition will be released next year. 

Mayer died two days ago, on November 22nd, 2022. She was 77 years old. 

"I was twenty-six years old when I started Memory. I look like such a kid in the photos . . . I can see myself growing up through the course of the month. I got the idea from Godard, who said that image and sound make a film. Then again, he also said all you needed to make a film was a girl and a gun.

July 1971 was a random point in time. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and that was the idea. I ended up being on the road a lot, going between city and country. Ed Bowes, my boyfriend at the time, had been hired by the Berkshire Theatre Festival to make films. I was taking a roll of film a day and developing it at night. I was also keeping a journal, recording my thoughts and feelings and transcribing actions as they were happening. It was exhausting. By the end, I had a total breakdown. Later on, I projected the slides I had taken and wrote a second text. I wanted to see what I had left out. The combination of these two texts—a text of sound and a text of image—is the audio component of Memory. I was presented with the choice of including everything or leaving a lot out. I chose to include everything, just to see what would happen.


I first met Holly Solomon at a party that winter. She invited me to have the first show at her new space at 98 Greene Street, which was in an old manufacturing building in Soho, before the neighborhood had any galleries. Gordon Matta-Clark, who was running FOOD at that time, who I remember making oxtail stew, helped install the exhibition. A.D. Coleman from the Village Voice reviewed the show, but beyond that it received little attention. It’s taken forty years for it to regain a new life.

Memory was an attempt to find out if people would get into that funny space where the words are floating around the room and so are the pictures. I still am hoping."
- Bernadette Mayer

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