Friend Places

Jennifer Saracino
feat. Kris Driggers, Jorge Blanco, Paulina Robledo Adame, Alex Macias
scrapbook, installation
friendship collectivity network

Sleep came upon me as it came on many other outcasts, against whom house-doors were locked, and house-dogs barked, that night—and I dreamed of lying on my old school-bed, talking to the boys in my room; and found myself sitting upright, with Steerforth’s name upon my lips, looking wildly at the stars that were glistening and glimmering above me.

In this passage, David recalls two temporally and geographically distinct experiences at one. This layering of memory defined my early experiences of Tucson when I first moved here. I would hike the desert landscape while thinking about the Atlantic coast from which I’d moved. Then, upon further reflection, I realized that my experience of Tucson is most defined by the experiences I’ve shared with others. This project takes the form of a friendship album, a genre predominantly authored by women in 19th century England and the United States. 
Long neglected in art historical scholarship, friendship albums proved to be one of the few artistic outlets available to women of the time. Women would sketch, journal, and express political opinions in these albums. Often, they would circulate them, dedicating poems or sketches to their closest friends. I thought the friendship album offered an interesting counterpoint to David Copperfield as Bildungsroman; that is, a single, male-authored narrative of place. Instead, this is a compilation of Tucson as experienced by a collective, a network of friends whose recollections with each other are integral to their conception of Tucson. Our friendship album encapsulates Tucson through an interweaving of our collective and individual experiences.

For more information regarding the historical context of friendship albums and to view the original sources of inspiration for this project, see University of Victoria Friendship Autograph Albums.

Dr. Jennifer Saracino is Assistant Professor of Art History. Her research focuses on Indigenous cartographic traditions of Central Mexico and investigates Nahua relationships to the environment as depicted in visual culture. Her work has appeared in Imago Mundi, Artl@s Bulletin, and Mapping Nature Across the Americas. 

"Friend Places" Jennifer Saracino © 2022 In collaboration with Kris Driggers, Jorge Blanco, Paulina Robledo Adame, Alex Macias. Produced for Big Book Field Studio © 2022