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Photograph of My Mother
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More about Photograph of My Mother

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These Jim Campbell pieces are simultaneously sentimental, strange, and steamy.

These were originally part of his Memory Works series. Photograph of my Mother is on the left. Portrait of my Father is on the right.

Created after his mother had been in the hospital battling pneumonia, this work consists of a photograph of the artist’s mother encased in glass and wired to a metal box labeled, “My breath January 1996 1 hour.” In what is both a sad reminder of his mother’s difficulty breathing and a physical manifestation of memory the glass fogs up in correlation to the recorded sound of Campbell’s breathing.

If you’re anything like me the cold metal box, exposed wires and rhythmic breathing initially fills you with memories of Buffalo Bill ala Silence of the Lambs and not thoughts of mommy baking cookies or singing you lullabies. While the murdery vibe may be unintentional, the cool detachment isn’t. The box, which appears as the source of the breath is purposely reminiscent of a computer and can be read as a symbol of compartmentalized emotions, memories, and data.

Just imagine your little angel bringing this home from school as their mother’s day card.