Never Letting Us Take Breath

Lee Henderson


“In taking a photograph, this tourist projects himself in a loop—forward, to the comfort of home, where he’ll then imagine backward into the memory that he is in the midst of constructing as the photograph is snapped ... Caught up in the romance of the rhetorical, he might later describe that moment of shutterpress as one of being perfectly present. But the truth is that when that shutter gapes open, ‘the present’ is the last thing on anyone’s mind.”

So intones a voice from the back room of Never Letting Us Take Breath, a nebulous photographic project by Lee Henderson. This installation grows from the fusing of two found slide archives: one a collection of an unknown family’s holiday mementos, and the other from a defunct travel agency. Personal snapshots are juxtaposed with destination promotions (both dating from the mid-1900s) and relayed through the mimetic media of print, slide projection, and sound. The project points to two aspects of photography that underlie its slipperiness as a discipline: its mechanical ability to represent the past indexically, and the human desire to fling oneself perpetually into the future.