“I DO, I DO” is a collection of 100 vintage nuptial cabinet cards ranging from ca. 1885-1900, all produced by studios in Wisconsin; a geographic specificity that remains a mystery and, perhaps beyond coincidence, is true of most American images of this variety. These portraits, made otherworldly under the veneer of time, exist forever frozen on the threshold between the private stories they conceal and the rigid conventions of the genre. Like actors against a backdrop, these anonymous posing couples heighten both the contractual nature of a relationship recognized by law or religion and the performative premise of wedlock.
These candidly literal depictions of marital bliss survived, as powerful symbols do, the mortality of their real counterparts. This collection considers notions of genealogy and ritual as connected to memory-making and kitsch under a contemporary spotlight that summons believers and skeptics alike.¹