While working on my roadside remembrance series, this was a memorial I came across in Victorville CA located on a I-15 frontage road at an intersection into a small neighborhood. I had photographed this in mid-October and the sustaining memorial had been prepared for the Halloween season. From what I heard, the mother of Mark, the 16 year boy who died near this location, was faithful in dressing or decorating this memorial for each passing season. Perhaps difficult to see is the basket of candy and other seasonal decorations that in the midst of the plastic flowers at the base. You might say that this subject continues to haunt me.
For this project I usually explored two aspects for each of my subjects; a close up to capture the myriad details (above) and a broader urban landscape to provide the environment and community context (below).
At a higher conceptual level, I think that I am understanding a little better that road side memorials and remembrances are complex and a subject that is not easily categorized. These edifices are temporary at best, thus most are a short term remembrance that does not usually last for very long. Most of these are on public land and when something is built on private land, it is usually without permission or consent of the land owner. Residing on property that is not owned complicates the issues for care and maintenance of these on a long term basis.
One issue I have is the categorization of these being a ‘memorial’ if in fact these are very transitory and not usually allowed to become permenant. I am just not sure what else to call these short term testimonies built to honor someone who was suddenly taken away in a traffic related traumatic event. But it seems that calling these a Roadside Remembrance might work for me.
What initially drew me in to start photographing these structures is the folk-art aspect of the road-side memorials; hand-built, not necessarily by artists or craftsmen, site-specific and each one being very unique. This is some of the same qualities attributed to Installation art and Street art while sculptural in shape and transitory in nature. As the angst of the memory of this traumatic moment fades to acceptance, I notice that so does the care and maintenance of these roadside memorials.
Cheers & stay safe,
My next exhibition:
January 16th – February 13th 2021; Photographs’s Eye gallery, Escondido, CA, a two-person exhibition that will feature my Memory Pods series (lens-based photography) in conjunction with the photographer Louise Russell. Exhibition reception is January 16th, 3:00 – 7:00 pm with reservations required to maintain social distancing.
Featured artwork, above & below; I-15 Frontage Road, Victorville, California (Roadside Remembrance) copyright Douglas Stockdale 2007.