Digital Issue 19: Deanna Dikeman – Leaving and Waving

Deanna Dikeman, Leaving and Waving (Chose Commune, 2021)

Excerpt taken from Paper Journal Digital Issue 19, available to download now.

By coincidence, it was this time last year that I first came across Deanna Dikeman’s Leaving And Waving, now collected together in a book published by Chose Commune (2021). Though essentially a private family photo album, over time I felt its mundane yet distinctly personal images manifesting in my own life. And as the initial weeks of isolation turned into months and spring progressed to winter, I found myself repeatedly returning to this work.

In July 1991, Dikeman visited her elderly parents, who the previous year had sold their family home in Sioux City, Iowa, USA, and moved to a bungalow across town. By then, Dikeman was in her thirties and well-aware of the diminishing time they would have together. As usual, at the end of her visit, her mother and father stood on the driveway to wave her off. But on this occasion, Dikeman took the opportunity to snap a photograph from her car window.

The scene is one of a suburban idyll, illuminated by the bright sun of a balmy summer day. Dikeman’s mother stands directly in front of the camera, with a tuft of white, curled hair. Her father can be seen taking shelter under the shade of a tree some distance away, wearing the uniform of a retiree; high-waisted slacks and a crisp, white shirt. Standing on the driveway of their red ranch-style home, and smiling, with arms raised, they give a cheery farewell to their beloved daughter.

Time and time again, as Dikeman’s regular visits drew to a close, she would pack the car and prepare the camera for another photograph. Taken from Leaving and Waving, she states, “it seemed natural to keep the camera busy”. Over 27 years, this small act became something of a ritual grounded in the inherent sadness of saying goodbye. Despite her parent’s polite embarrassment and gentle protestations, Dikeman didn’t stop. Through the birth of her son, her father’s death, and her mother’s final years in care, the act remained the same, even as life around it changed.

  • A selection of spreads from Paper Journal digital issue 19. Cover © Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Vanessa and Diane, 2016

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