I collect a lot of stuff: old cameras, nuns, boudoir dolls, old playing cards, antique photographs – and daguerreotypes. Each dag is unique – the dag is its own negative. In fact, if you tilt it, you can see it change from positive to negative and back again. Dags have holographic properties, and they’re quite elusive.
I love dags because they’re encased in glass and brass
and velvet, so they’re three-dimensional treasures. And I feel like
I’m looking INTO them, peering in at somebody who’s peering out from the
past. They kind of remind me of shooting stars…when you see a shooting
star, you’re seeing something that took place a long time ago and it just
took all these years for the light to travel this far.
Life is so transient,
so fleeting, and these were the first people who were able to leave some
tangible image of themselves behind. I love the mirror, I love the case, I
love the people. I love the fact that they were the first people to
experience being photographed. We’re so accustomed to photography, it’s so
much a part of our lives, we take it so much for granted. But for them – it must have seemed
magical. I love holding that magic in my hands, 150 years later. I love dags.
Here is one from my collection – her name is Sister Saint-Vallier, she was French-Canadian, and this dag was taken on the day she took her permanent vows in 1856.