Matt Eich: I Love You, I’m Leaving
At this particular time I have no one
Particular person to grieve for, though there must
Be many, many unknown ones going to dust
I often recall this verse by Elizabeth Jennings from her poem In Memory of Anyone Unknown to Me when I view images that cause my heart to ache, that force me to empathize and consider the threads that join together our collective stories. The images in Matt Eich’s newest monograph, I Love You, I’m Leaving, published by Ceiba Editions, weave these threads into a complicated yet tender, semi-fictional portrait of a family enduring the chaos and elation of life. Every photograph is steeped in a familiar, heavy kind of tension that can be recognized by any viewer. We are invited to experience at once both pain and joy, love and frustration, closeness and distance, sharp reality and fleeting memory. Eich uses his camera to grasp at the apparitions of human experience, in his words, wrestling fragile memories into a permanent state. Everything from the cover image of a half-erased chalkboard, to the cyclical nature of the book sequence, echoes Eich’s attempts to construct something concrete from the intangible, creating at once a book object that feels both uniquely personal and profoundly universal.
There are still special and limited edition copies of I Love You, I’m Leaving available for purchase online, in addition to his first monograph, published by Sturm & Drang entitled Carry Me Ohio. Keep your eyes peeled for three forthcoming monographs between 2018 and 2020.
Matt Eich (b. 1986) is a portrait photographer, and photographic essayist working on long-form projects about the American condition. He is a Professional Lecturer of Photography at The George Washington University and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife and two daughters.
Matt’s work has been widely exhibited and received numerous grants and recognitions, including PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch, the Joop Swart Masterclass, an Aaron Siskind Fellowship, and two Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography. Matt’s prints are held in the permanent collections of The Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The New York Public Library, Chrysler Museum of Art and others.
Eich studied photojournalism at Ohio University and holds an MFA in Photography from Hartford Art School’s International Limited-Residency Program.
I Love You, I’m Leaving
My introduction to photography was in childhood, as my grandmother was dying of Alzheimer’s disease. The hopelessness of her plight triggered something within me, and when my grandfather handed me a camera, making photographs became a way of stabilizing the insecurity of memory and accessing emotional resonance. If we are at risk of forgetting too much of our world, and ourselves, photography is the antidote.
I created this work during a time of general domestic unease, when my parents separated after 33 years of marriage, my siblings all experienced drastic changes in their lives and my wife, children and I moved to a new city.
The title of this series, I Love You, I’m Leaving, stems from the constant rhythm of my peripatetic life. It holds true when I leave my family to photograph strangers, and leave strangers to return home.
This series borrows from personal experience, and the visual language of the everyday in order to create a fictional account that mirrors my reality. Photographs are reductions, distillations, half-truths and complete fabrications. They can only describe the surface of things, while I am interested in the intangible – memory and emotional resonance.
Despite our intimacy, the people I am closest to are unknowable, and will always remain a mystery to me. I photograph with the knowledge that our place in this world is tenuous, comprised of little more than memory and story. Memory is fragile; the moments are fleeting and have to be wrestled into a permanent state. – Matt Eich
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