The motto is dead – long live the motto. Slogans and hashtags swing elections, propel social movements, and take down harassers and abusers. At first glance, literature, too, seems full of easily quotable catchphrases. “Make the decision to change your life,” commands a subway advertisement in “Camila” by Vanessa Bates Ramirez. “You’ve just got to find the right mantra,” counsels Brina in Caroline Beimford’s “Under My Skin.” Do we though?
SAND has always been more interested in what slips through the cracks between genres and philosophies. No matter how tempting, we cannot offer a false “answer key” that could strip the enigma from the landscapes of post-apocalyptic Finland, post-marital Macedonia, post-vegetarian Australia, or post-mortem Oregon.
But even then, it is difficult not to look for mottos, such as in the title of Melissa Spitz’s prizewinning documentary photo series, which chronicles the ups and downs of her mother Deborah’s mental health. The series title comes from a note taped to Deborah’s door: “Reminder: You Have Nothing To Worry About!” That’s what real mottos do: remind us of our aspired states of being – united, happy, unworried. The photographs, meanwhile, show life’s layered reality.