Sunday, December 10, 2006
done, made or conducted without the knowledge of others
My son in law, Sam, recently wrote a song, which is an ode to Emily Dickinson. He and Abbie sing it together, their sweet voices harmonizing beautifully in the chorus:
"Emily binds her secrets up with a needle and thread..."…
Abbie joins in on the word "“with" and it gives me goosebumps when their two voices complete the line, sort of woven together themselves. Anyhow, I must admit to not knowing a whole lot about Emily, and I've been wondering what Sam meant. After doing some quick research, I learned that the poet, who only had a handful of pieces published while she was alive, kept most of her poems hidden away. Hundreds of them were discovered by her sister, Lavinia, upon Emily'’s death. They were found, mostly written in pencil, mostly untitled and often unfinished, tied into little handmade books, stitched together with string by Emily's own hand.
I've been listening to that song a lot lately. As a result, I have been thinking about secrets.
Keeping them, knowingly or unknowingly, is something I think we all do. As someone who makes art, I must confess that secrets often become part of the fabric of an image I am making (especially one that is particularly personal) or even, the reason for making the piece in the first place.
The old family pictures I “"stitched" together (The Shredding Project) are, for me, a lot about secrets - secrets we kept from one another then, things that we imagined where going on then, but kept to ourselves, thoughts we had about one another, but kept to ourselves, etc.
Even the pictures I made in Uganda hold many secrets. The children in the photographs have many of their own - some very horrible - and you can just about begin to see the murmuring of one of those secrets poised on their lips if you look hard enough.
My favorite photographer, Diane Arbus, once said, "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
Every Sunday, some members of this family go to a site called postsecret.blogspot.com. Posted on it each week is a collection of peoples' secrets, which they now feel the need to share with others (although they are all anonymous.) You might check it out sometime if secrets intrigue you, too.
I guess, based on the definition I found in on old Webster's dictionary, you could say that anything we make or do alone is a secret.
It's the process of revealing that secret that is so interesting to me.