Fragments of a journey through the desert landscapes of south-west USA

Oblivion takes its cue from the text of the same name by the French anthropologist Marc Augé. He writes: “We must forget in order to remain present, forget in order not to die, forget in order to remain faithful. […] Oblivion is the life force of memory and remembrance its product.”

This project takes Augé’s consideration of the role of oblivion in our forming of memories and applies it to a photo essay. It consists of panoramic photographs shot in 2015 in the desert territories of the south-west USA – Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah. It’s a documentation of a journey, imbued with the arbitrary quality of seeing landscapes in motion: if one had looked out of one vehicle window rather than the other, the sights would have been different, but the destination would have been the same.

The fragments seen in the images are traces of lives already lived in the landscape. Through the process of oblivion, their stories become perceptible by becoming (almost) forgotten. They are memories that are created by that which is omitted. In parallel, “oblivion” succinctly describes the process of photographing them. Rather than photography being an infallible aide to memory, its oblivion is present in the images that are not selected, what is omitted from the frame, what is not seen and what is ignored.

The output for this project is a short book entitled Oblivion, containing a selection of pictures from the series, published in 2018. Its second printing, also 2018, had the same format and slight differences in layout.

Available from SKWCZP.