can I trust you is a series of photographs of the diary pages of (mostly) adolescent girls. This work considers the hand written mark as a communicator of intense emotion, touch as a kind of content, and the early struggle to find meaningful language. In part, the subject is hand and pen and paper; a kind of naïve drawing that somehow tells a bigger story that it was ever meant to tell.

My mom gave me my first diary when I was eleven. It scared me to death. All that empty space. The cover was white leather with a gold band, and there was a lock and a key. I remember hiding the key and the diary in separate places, as if my world were huge.

It is my diary with which I began this work, but most of the source material is borrowed from adult women who for unknown reasons have held on to these locked volumes for years. It doesn’t matter whose diaries they are. Though they are all different, what one sees is always familiar. These pages are humble attempts to draft a self.>

I photograph these pages in the direct sunshine with Polaroid positive-negative 4” x 5” film. Traditionally, my substrate, printing-out paper, is gold toned, and results in deep, rich purple-blacks. I began to alter the process in order to achieve a range of colors, which underline the turmoil of the writer and provide the language with its own body.

Judith Taylor

“The diary photographs unearth the remains of an intensely private culture. More than the details of particular lives, Taylor shows us the anger and self-recrimination, the wild hopes and clumsy attempts at articulating intense emotion. In photographs of pages of passionately written recollections crossed out with the darkest of inks, Taylor shows us the failure of the diarist, her embarrassment and even literary disappointment.  The question that names the series, can I trust you?, belongs to the owner of the diary, who, anonymously poses the question to Taylor herself, who took possession of each diary for a period of time in order to photograph it.  The very collection of the diaries is an exercise in building trust with their owners, offering a far reaching intimacy.”

Kevin Melchionne
Former Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Ophelia Rising at Temple Gallery
Tyler School of Art
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania