Online Exhibits@Yale

Desire to Capture, Desire to Expose - Section 2

Page from scrapbook containing photographs of H.D., Kenneth Mapherson, Bryher, and others with various clippings, Classical architecture, sculpture, etc.

Scrapbook containing photographs of H.D., Kenneth Mapherson, Bryher, and others with various clippings, Classical architecture, sculpture, etc. [n.d.].

Collecott writes that H.D. and Bryher composed nude photographs of each other on the California coast during their visit to the United States in the fall of 1920. It is possible that these photographs are the ones included in this album, juxtaposed so closely with ancient ruins. Where the left-hand image meets the central one, there’s an incredible moment in which the shorelines align, asking us to read H.D.’s Isadora Duncan-like pose as continuous with the ruins. But I know that that the glue lies, that the photographs were likely taken months, if not years apart

Page from scrapbook containing photographs of H.D., Kenneth Mapherson, Bryher, and others with various clippings, Classical architecture, sculpture, etc.

Scrapbook containing photographs of H.D., Kenneth Mapherson, Bryher, and others with various clippings, Classical architecture, sculpture, etc. [n.d.].

This page offers an interesting meditation on Bryher—older and younger, up close and distant, out of focus and crisp. Bryher becomes Perdita’s adoptive mother, legally taking on the responsibility of raising her. Tucked in the right corner, H.D. has placed a tiny cut out of Perdita, ghostlike against a sepia background. Cute is the best word to describe the child, positioned to look tenderly toward Bryher. If H.D. initially took this photo, then Perdita intended this sweet gaze for her, her birth mother. But in cutting and pasting, H.D. transfers this gaze away from herself and toward the adopted mother. Above the small, sepia image of Bryher in the snow there are remnants of glue and the back of a photograph. Who occupied this place on the page—did H.D. attempt to insert herself into this collaged family portrait, a gesture later erased either intentionally or unintentionally by weak glue and time.

Desire to Capture, Desire to Expose - Section 2