Mayflies by Dimitra Dede
Life is ephemeral. Motherhood is a fight for perpetuation.
I did not spend the holidays with my family, but rather as a voyeur, or as a +1, into that of others. The endless distance is bittersweet: both relieving and heartbreaking. As I reflected on childhood phantoms, I opened Mayflies – I read the author’s words, thenceforth every image, every page, the fleeting thought of my mother hovered.
An archetypal matriarch, the one that is universal and woman, flawed and yet powerful, melded with the recollections of my own mother. Dimitra Dede’s words transpired grievance: “The music stopped. The music along with the veritable cornucopia of love for me, are buried now.” Near the culmination of Mayflies, after the laden black pages, comes a white that is sterile. Her text is a moment in time, a lapse from the first word to the last, but more importantly from the history collected into the book’s core, to the final chapter of silent, pallid, gray grief.
With Dede’s text, Mayflies’ cover could seem overt. A womb or a woman’s sex. I smiled, to me it remained the innocent trunk of a tree. Only now, the tree appeared as those in the forest while on walks with my parents.
Those youthful afternoons, where adulthood had not yet afflicted us. And in the large spreads of the book, in the full-paged landscapes, the ballade became an intimate but universal one. Characters appeared as historical: personal to us all, like a collective sister, daughter, father, brother.
Yet the textures of the photograph – coarse, treated, almost rough – did not resonate. I feel distance when others feel soaring emotions. I feel the ice of a live sorrow, and not the passion and vulnerability of a death. The book’s battle suddenly felt like that of others. Myself at others’ family dinners. Mayflies’ instances, its timeline of bodies and places, is devoted.
Its procession onto the thick natural paper is sentimental. Even in its abrasiveness there is tenderness. The black isn’t daunting, it is reflective. Moments come and go into focus, eyes stare into the camera, the sky is dotted and shining. With expositions of light at times, life culminates.
Portraits and landscapes interlace like memories, with instances of color chaptering our absorbed process. Mayflies is an album, where its author slowly faces the end, where its author copes. “The journey continues”. In the white mountain’s denouement, the solemn cold of motherhood felt more relevant to me. Dede’s forever in the past, is long gone to me.
This text is part of The C.Sawyer project.
The project cultivates a character – C. Sawyer – who interlaces his/her personal analysis of Tipi’s photobooks with his/her unfolding life, thoughts, routine, emotions, relations, etc. Every now and then C. Sawyer writes a chronicle based on a selection of books.