Moyra Davey: Burn the Diaries

Copublished with MuMOK, Vienna, and ICA, Philadelphia, in 2014
With texts and photographs by Moyra Davey and Allison Strayer
Design by Filiep Tacq
104 pages, 37 images, softcover, 6 ¼ x 8 ¼ inches
ISBN-13: 978-0-9853377-2-8

There are a few remaining copies, please contact us if interested.

In the oeuvre of Canadian-born, New York–based artist Moyra Davey, literature and writing are as significant as photography, film, and video. In Burn the Diaries, Davey considers the work of French playwright and political activist Jean Genet (1910–1986), while examining fugitive moments from her own life. An essay by her childhood friend and reading companion Alison Strayer, written in response, reflects on Davey’s themes. The publication is part of a group of works—also including photographs, a film, and an installation of her signature mailers—and can be read both as an artist’s book and a catalogue that accompanied an exhibition at mumok, Vienna, and the ICA, Philadelphia, in 2014.

Praise and Press

I wandered through Davey’s book in a bit of a trance, and indeed it is written in a dream-like, fragmentary style, and interspersed with images of Davey’s own photographs. Burn the Diaries is about how we are changed by the books that we read, and how the books that we read change the way that we write, and even the way that we process our lives. Davey has presented to us her own diary, and in order to do so she could not burn it.

— Sarah Gagnon, The Improbable

Moyra Davey’s penchant for introspective discussion on process is a unifying factor throughout her work, and Burn the Diaries operates as a kind of culminating capstone to these pursuits, in two acts. The first is a clear, open window onto the connective tissue of the artist’s own mind, deftly compressing memory and experience through layers and layers of literary and self-analysis, led by Jean Genet’s writings. The second is an essay by Alison Strayer, an equally contemplative literary obsessive, analyzing Davey’s document within the context of her own personal narrative. Published in conjunction with her film My Saints, Burn the Diaries is composed of documents that reflect on the complex acts of reading, writing, absorbing, and recording information visually, verbally, and intellectually, maintaining a dog-eared and finger-printed aesthetic in its method of presentation. It comprises writing on writing, photographs about photography, thoughts on thinking, and delicately probes the sticky conundrum of defining oneself through one’s influences. At the heart of Burn is the dual sense of security provided by documentation and the terrifying prospect that these delicate relics could serve to define the nuanced complexity of experience.

—Samantha Dylan Mitchell, Brooklyn Rail

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