Camera Lucida, written by French literary theorist Roland Barthes, is arguably one of the most influential books about photography. Published in 1980, shortly before his death, the book is also a tribute to Barthes’ late mother, Henriette.

In it, Barthes discusses a treasured snapshot taken in 1898, known as the Winter Garden photograph. It is an image of Henriette, aged five, not shown Camera Lucida. Barthes describes it as follows:

With the Photograph, we enter into flat Death. The horror is this: nothing to say about the death of one whom I love most, nothing to say about her photograph, which I contemplate without ever being able to get to the heart of it, to transform it. The only “thought” I can have is that at the end of this first death, my own death is inscribed; between the two, nothing more than waiting…[1]

The Winter Garden Photograph project will mark the 40th anniversary of Camera Lucida in 2020.

It comprises two parts. The first is an edited volume of photographs and texts titled Keeper of the Hearth, launching in early 2020. The second involves an exhibition of these photographs.

More than 200 artists, writers, curators, and historians contributed a photograph or text to Keeper of the Hearth.

The project is directed and curated by Australian/British artist Odette England.

[1] Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1982), 92-93.

Image credit: BBC (UK)

Image credit: BBC (UK)