Steve Pyke | Acts Of Memory | Intro
Acts Of Memory
In his memorable photographic series “Acts of Memory I-X,” Pyke has explored his visual history in ten large tableaus. Each tableau is a tapestry of images assembled from Steve’s contact sheets and snaps, photographic snippets of what he has seen and experienced in his life and work. The individual collages, chronologically arranged, reflect the spirit of a certain period—tableau I, for example, mirrors the punky exuberance of 1977-1982. With each progressive Roman numeral, time passes, and the overall mood changes ever so slightly; the tableaus become subtly darker, and a bit of sadness creeps in. The subjects are older, and so is the photographer. As a whole, they reflect changing times and attitudes of the past three decades.
There are two ways to approach these densely packed tableaus: as a scavenger hunt, looking for individual images to figure out the artist’s life; or, more satisfying for me, simply allowing the eye to wander. A deeper fascination will take hold, and images will trigger memories from our own lives, much like the way a certain smell can transport us to a place and time. Steve courageously exposes his life to us, allowing us to experience the intimate threads of our own.
The weaving of pictures and memories has been part of Steve’s artistic pursuit for a long time. If you are lucky enough to find a copy of “I Could Read the Sky,” by Steve Pyke and Timothy O’Grady, with a preface by John Berger, open the first page and you will read, “I whispered: Memory hurts wherever you touch.” That’s what I felt looking at “Acts of Memory,” except it also brought me joy.
-Elisabeth Biondi, Visuals Editor,The New Yorker
Steve Pyke: In Search Of Memory
Photo: Hudson Studio Mural #8