secure the shadow

Curated by Isobel Parker Philip

Secure the shadow ere the substance fade. An appeal against impermanence. An attempt to counteract and conquer entropy.

This phrase is a photographic advertising cliché — an oft-quoted expression used to promote photography and its practitioners from as early as the 1840s. It was enlisted as a slogan by various photographic studios and was printed on the back of numerous cartes de visite.

A carte de visite is a descendent of the calling card; a photograph (often an albumen print) affixed to card and with an average size of 10 x 6.4 cm. Popular between 1860 and the 1890s, cartes de visite were often exchanged during social engagements. They were small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

They were a leave-behind; a forget-me-not, a personalized souvenir, a memento (mori).

Secure the shadow ere the substance fade.

To hold on.