I wanted to make something about Cathy Rexford’s work for a couple of reasons. I’ve known Cathy for a while. Her family is from Kaktovik, and mine is from Barrow. We both lived in Barrow and even worked together at the Tuzzy Library. I responded to her work because it talks about people and places that I feel a connection to. And I responded to this particular poem, Luis Gonzalez Palma Never Took a Picture Here, because of the way it connects image and memory, past and present, character and place.
It’s a cinematic poem. The images she evokes are real and vital and immediate, as are the images in the home movie footage that I used (which came from Cathy). That vitality and immediacy is transformed into memory and nostalgia in an instantaneous, even brutal way with her line “The morning after, your descendants hang you above leathered couches.” And so the vibrantly alive movie footage becomes the static reminiscence of a photograph. It’s a beautiful and sad line, and the image of a wall of photos hanging above an old couch is one that is familiar to anyone who has visited the communities of rural Alaska.