Shimon Attie

Laser Writing Out Jewish Senior's Memory, 1998

Shimon Attie (American, born 1957), Laser Writing Out Jewish Senior's Memory, 1998, Ektacolor print, 23 3/4 x 65 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2013.3. Shimon Attie © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

"I wanted to give visual form to the personal and collective memories and imaginings of residents of the Lower East Side. I interviewed 75 longtime residents from diverse ethnic backgrounds and age groups who were generous and trusting enough to share their memories. They wrote down their favorite childhood songs, poems, sleeping dreams, wishes, night time prayers, intuitions, and memories of the neighborhood from their youth. Using computer-assisted lasers, excerpts from these texts were then actually written out in blue laser light—in English, Chinese, Yiddish and Spanish—over a several week period, inscribing the architecture of the neighborhood with the handwritten memories of its residents. During the project's run, I took long exposure night-time color photographs which are intended as works of art in their own right."—Shimon Attie