In his piece, Road to Bislich, Germany (item #0106), Alan expresses his surprise at learning about his father’s travel into Germany: “Germany, Dad? On the road to Bislich, Germany?!” His questions reveal a combination of angst, astonishment and frustration at not having known about this part of his father’s life. In The Discovery, Alan writes about finding the collection and concludes, “This was not how I had seen him. I wanted to know. More.” The weight of the unknown is palpable and delving into the archive with imagination will not satisfy this yearning. The partial truth may be less satisfying than not knowing anything at all.
The works in Erratics begin with photography and rely on speculation and archives as story-telling devices. In her essay “Variations on Desire,” Hustvedt writes: “I have always felt intuitively that conscious remembering and imagining are powerfully connected, that they are, in fact, so similar as to be at times difficult to disentangle from each other.”10 Ruminating on truth and whether or not you have discovered it all is like a never-ending rabbit hole – we may not know what we do not know, or we may knowingly or unwittingly fill in gaps with our own imagination. Perhaps we should face our discomfort instead and accept that the whole truth cannot be known. The Schlögel Archive brings a fictional character into reality, while His Father Over Time fictionalizes elements from the life of a real person. In the end, they are equally authentic and real, suggesting that emotional truth is more powerful than facts.
1 Donna Rose Addis, Memory of Myself: Autobiographical Memory and Identity in Alzheimer’s Disease (Aukland: University of Aukland, 2001).
2 Siri Hustvedt, “On Reading,” Living, Thinking, Looking (New York: Picador, 2012), 136.
3 This line of text also appears in the novel, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel.
4 Martha Baillie has created a companion digital archive, www.schlogel.ca, which allows for extensive exploration of the postcards and readings.
5 Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador, 1977), 9.
6 This is not to suggest any infidelity. The pictures prompted Alan to consider his father’s early relationships and his parents’ courtship.
7 The archive, with captions, is digitally available online at, www.malkagreene.smugmug.com/morris-resnick.
8 Martha Baillie, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel (St. John’s: Pedlar Press, 2014), 17.
9 Amy Grief, “Photo exhibit centres on the notion of memory,” The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto, 6 May 2015), http://www.cjnews.com/arts/photo-exhibit-centres-notion-memory.
10 Hustvedt, “Variations on Desire,” 5.
Martha Baillie is the author of five novels, including The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, a Globe and Mail Top 100 book for 2014. Her previous novel, The Incident Report, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a Globe and Mail Top 100 book for 2009 and is being adapted into a screenplay. She has written about contemporary visual art for Brick magazine and other publications. Baillie studied at the University of Edinburgh, the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Toronto. She lives and works in Toronto.
Malka Greene is an artist and independent curator with a particular interest in photography and new media. Her work explores many themes, including history, relationships, connections and the grey areas between the known and the unknowable. Greene’s work is included in several private collections and publications, including Flava: Wedge Curatorial Projects (1997-2007) and Chart magazine. She holds a BFA (Hons.) in New Media with an English Literature minor from Ryerson University and a Diploma (Hons.) in Applied Photography from Sheridan College. She is on the Board of Directors of Gallery TPW and is based in Toronto.
Alan Resnick is a TV Comedy Writer who has written for live action and animation. He has won three Gemini Awards and was an original writer on This Hour Has 22 Minutes (CBC). Whether on television or in his literary blog Welcome to Kafkaville (Pop.1), Resnick explores the nuances of relationship, and themes of love and loss, using off-beat humour and satire. He was born in Ottawa and currently lives and works in Toronto.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Shannon Anderson
Publication to the exhibition Erratics: Martha Baillie | Malka Greene with Alan Resnick
Presented by the Koffler Gallery | April 16 to June 14, 2015 | Curator: Mona Flip
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2015, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-928175-05-6.