Interview with the American artist, Jason Lazarus
– Creator of the collaborative anonymous photography project, Too Hard To Keep.
Who are you Jason?
an artist who is headquartered in florida
Where are you right now?
at my home studio
Can you introduce your project “Too Hard To Keep”?
T.H.T.K. (2010 – Present) is an archive of photographs and photo ephemera deemed by public participants as “too hard to keep.”
Submissions may include photographs, slides, photo albums, memory cards, unprocessed film, or any image-charged object.
The reason you can’t live with the photo or photo-object I do not need to know…the images are shown without explanation or attribution.
I am creating a repository for these images so that they may exist without being destroyed.
All submissions are exhibited anonymously.
How did you come up with this archive idea? Did you try this experiment with yourself and your photos?
i am the kind of person who had images too hard to keep, so i started the idea after testing the idea on close friends, the responses were powerful so i opened up the project through social media
How many images did you receive during these 6 years?
You can receive huge parcels with hundreds of images and you always publish only one- what do you with the rest?
i have storage at home and in my studio
What has been the most touching package your received?
many packages are special for different reasons: the photos themselves, the writing on the envelope or package, additional items thrown in, an accompanying letter, sometimes a single photo submission with no accompanying text or explanation and you feel the weight of that one image.
the most disturbing?
pictures of children are often the hardest or disturbing as they have so little agency in the trauma they experience when young
the most unexpected?
i once received an amazing painting, probably 8×10″, that was very unexpected. one time i received a 32×40″ photograph mounted on foamcore that i am not allowed to show publicly so i show it in it’s original packaging
What’s your relation with the contributors? Do you happen to have conversations with them or is it always total anonymous?
usually no conversation with the contributors, mostly anonymous
Did you learn something from this huge ongoing project?
i’ve learned so much about developing my own archiving practices and following my instincts, making the project personal and idiosyncratic instead of museumological, the importance of writing as i do the project, the importance of communicating slowly and with purpose when explaining the project to possible participants or host venues, and the value of a long term exploration
What’s next for you?
i’m participating in group exhibitions coming up in florida and detroit, i’m in residence in harlem, ny this summer, and exhibiting a new collaborative project in berlin at exgirlfriend called pdf-objects
What are you going to do just after having answered to this final question?
“If needed, I can pay shipping costs to send any photos, photo albums, photo-objects, or any other large submissions to the repository: