Bernadette Mayer

Friends of BERNADETTE MAYER FUNDRAISER and Midwinter Day Marathon Reading

New York Times Best (Photography) Books!

“The photos are necessarily small (roughly 2½ inches by 1¾ inches), arrayed in grids of nine, along with intermittent full-page blowups, and as lovely as individual images are, their power is cumulative: a wide-ranging work of personal cinema, in stills. Her journal provides the narration in galloping long-breath prose poetry that feels as spontaneous and alive as the pictures.” —Luc Sante, New York Times

Memory made more “Best of 2020” lists: The Brooklyn Rail, Cultured, Elephant, and Ursula!

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In July 1971, Bernadette Mayer embarked on an experiment: For one month she exposed a roll of 35mm film and kept a daily journal. The result was a conceptual work that investigates the nature of memory, its surfaces, textures and material. Memory is both monumental in scope (over 1100 photographs, two hundred pages of text and six hours of audio recording) and a groundbreaking work by a poet who is widely regarded as one of the most innovative writers of her generation. Presaging Mayer’s durational and constraint-based diaristic works of poetry, it also evinces her extraordinary—and unheralded—contribution to conceptual art.

Mayer has called Memory “an emotional science project,” but it is far from confessional. Rather, this boldly experimental record follows the poet’s eye as she traverses early morning into night, as quotidian minutiae metamorphose into the lyrical, as her stream of consciousness becomes incantatory. The space of memory in Mayer’s work is hyper-precise but also evanescent and expansive. In both text and image, Mayer constructs the mercurial, fleeting consciousness of the present moment from which memory is—as she says—“always there, to be entered, like the world of dreams or an ongoing TV show.”

This publication brings together the full sequence of images and text for the first time in book form, making space for a work that has been legendary but mostly invisible. Originally exhibited in 1972 by pioneering gallerist Holly Solomon, it was not shown again in its entirety until 2016. The text was published without the photographs in 1975 and has been long out of print.



Bernadette Mayer (b. 1945, Brooklyn, NY) is the author of over thirty books including the acclaimed Midwinter Day (1982), a book-length poem written during a single day in Lenox, Massachusetts, as well as the The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), and most recently Works and Days (2016) which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. Associated with the New York School as well as the Language poets, Mayer has also been an influential teacher and editor. In the art world, she is best known for her collaboration with Vito Acconci as editors of the influential mimeographed magazine 0 TO 9. Read more about Mayer here.