Sarah Pollman, currently faculty at Montserrat College of Art and Emerson College, shows her strength in photography through intimacy in space, both physically and mentally. The lack of a corporeal presence is compensated by the power of emotion behind the spirituality of what is left. The Distances Between Us is a reflective piece on the knowledge of obscurity in the nameless and unmarked graves of loved ones and those loved at one point in time. Using the combination of two portfolios, Father and Mother and Anonymous Markers, and emulating the composition of Roland Barthe’s Camera Lucida, the differences in between the two show greatly, but the similarities outweigh through the stillness and memories that is felt in the photographs.
In Father and Mother found at the beginning of the book, the common theme seen is tombstones marked with the words “Father” and “Mother” instead of names, sitting next to each over in graveyards. The loveliness of the golden hour bringing forward the eternal bond of death of lovers lays down an ethereal quality in the first part of the book. The very limited group of people that know the anonymous pair that are buried underneath the markers adds another piece of romanticism to the mysterious puzzle. Some add more of a loving touch by being connected or even sharing a marker. There is an intrusive feeling looking on at someone else’s parents’ tombstones, and yet, the simplicity of no names is more intriguing, and a passerby can’t help but try to gather more information about the deceased.
After the father and mother gravestones, a short written piece by Pollman about herself and her sister connects a new set of markers in the book, bringing the viewer to Anonymous Markers. Black and white photographs with even more cryptic meanings behind their etchings including stacks of wood in the middle of a forest, stones with numbers carved in them, and a plank leaning up against a tree. These markers are those that are not known by a soul, abandoned from the cemeteries of jails, hospitals, and schools. The truest form of those buried under these indicators is unknown to this day, fading with every daybreak and nightfall. The transition of from color to black and white photographs makes the perfect shift from a small number of people knowing the deceased to no one visiting their graves. The sadness of the reality sets in when no one can tell there is a person underneath their feet anymore.
The Distances Between Us is a love letter to those lost, both known and forgotten. A ghostly chill down your spine makes you see the markings on the side of the road not as they once were in your head, bring up memories of loss from your past and creating new ones from your location. Pollman has changed the perspective of the unknown to the unfamiliar, showing the cherished jointed graves of loved ones and the time that was spent to bury those that some may brush off as not important any longer. The Distances Between Us is a commemoration of any loss suffered in silence, out loud, or never connected at both ends.
Thank you to Sarah Pollman for sending the book to us for this review! If you are interested in your book getting reviewed by OURS Magazine, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are interested in purchasing The Distances Between Us, you can purchase it on Sarah Pollman’s website. For shipping in Europe and internationally, you can purchase the book from the Trema Förlag website.
Written by Madison Rich
Image Copyright: Madison Rich