the cut path

14Nov08

02

06

Both images above are from John Mann‘s series the cut path. I wrote about his folded in place series over on the Hey, Hot Shot! blog but am having a harder time figuring these out…. For some reason, they are sticking with me more than the maps though.

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Unseasonable sunshine streaming through the window + residual election buzz + Anna’s singing in the house =  a good day for this poem + photo.  The poem arrived recently via a note from a friend in response to a previous post. (I first came across it in the loo! Strange but true: a friend’s brother had the text on the wall! Really, a great idea, if you ask me.) The image, Changing Weather, St. Louis, Misssouri, 2008 by Justin Visnesky, arrived via Flak Photo. 

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So Much Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records….

Since there is no place large enough 
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it,
And in that way, be known.


I am totally blown away by Michael Lundgren‘s Transfigurations. They are made up of all the things that keep me awake at night.

As if I didn’t miss the West enough already, they are like coming home.  And they are like falling into a place that I will never know, or once I do know, will not be able to transcribe on to paper, silver or pulp or digital. 

They are so, so quiet that I fear I will lose them or be lost to them (I’m not sure which) if I look away for a moment.


In his statement, Lundgren writes: 

Early on, landscape was grounds for the idealization of nature—the creation of an Eden whose existence is surely at question. Contending with the devastation enacted upon the earth, landscape photography has in many ways become a medium of political motivations—a necessary pursuit given the dire circumstances. However, a summary of intention for both of these approaches might be: “Look at how wonderful nature is, but do not mistake, it is better off without us.”

My work has always been an effort to shift this paradigm—we are nature. Perhaps our one chief distinction is that we are forever trying to control entropy—and things always fall apart. In Transfigurations, I hope to walk the line between apocalyptic-transcendence and our own perseverance.

Radius Books just published the book and Transfigurations will be on view at Clamp Art here in NYC at the end of November.   

um, I’ll be there.


breathing

21Oct08

I’m beginning to really love the work of Ann Tarantino, and in particular, a series of works she did in collaboration with Kate McGraw.  I love these especially:

They’re not really works I feel like writing about but they make me wish I did more drawing.  They remind me of things I’ve read and dreams I’ve had but I couldn’t say which books or which dreams and whether they were good or bad.


or if you are interested in seeing the work of emerging photographers, I’m also writing here.  But I promise I’ll be back here soon, maybe even sooner than usual!


The nature and tone of recent news and election coverage made me dig up David James Duncan‘s collection of essays and short stories, My Story As Told By Water, for the passage strategic withdrawal. (DJD is required reading for anyone who lives, lived or wants to live in the Pacific Northwest but really is good reading for anyone.) In particular, I was searching for these words:

strategic withdrawal: any refusal to man our habitual political or psychological trenches or to defend our turf, for though the turf may be holy, our defenses, when they grow automatic, are not

any refusal to engage with that testy or irritating or ideologically loud or theologically bloated person in your life – you know the one: the agitatedly racist or religionist, politically powerful or compulsively processing pedant, co-worker, parent, friend, or (God help you) spouse whose opinions are too poorly formed, too loudly held, or just too incessantly divulged to allow you to achieve peace in the presence of so much clanging banging editorializing mental machinery

As I re-read more of strategic withdrawal, I was reminded of the work of a professor and mentor, Philip Perkis, a New Yorker, not a northwesterner, but someone who possess the extraordinary ability to go anywhere in the world and take pictures that are fearless, compassionate and beautiful, and about living and seeing in the broadest sense of both those things.

I’ve spent days agonizing about how to write about the connection I felt between this writing and Perkis’ photographs and I’ve decided that I won’t do it, for fear of selling the work short.  The best thing, and for now the only thing, is to tell you to pick up The Sadness of Men.

Or, you can see what some of his other students have said about him.

As I spent time re-visting The Sadness of Men, I thought of another man I was recently introduced to, Father Tom, a priest who has dedicated himself to educating and feeding people in Haiti because it needs to be done, not for the church (really).  And one late evening on the Jersey Shore (not an epicenter for political or philosophical discussion, I know, but doesn’t the ocean cause us all to wax a little poetic?), he said something like this: in all his time working in Haiti, he began to realize that he felt, “less white, less male, less Catholic.”


Yesterday I was informed that it was the Autumnal Equinox and that it was the day of perfect balance and harmony between light and shadow and day and night. And, if I believed that the stars would save my life, that would have been the day… (sigh…)

And even though I don’t believe that the stars are going to save my life, today, walking home across the Williamsburg Bridge, I read these things on the pavement: “you’re beautiful,” “your job is not your life,” and “my god I’m so happy!” The first two were a result of a stencil, the work of an artist (consoling a girl/boyfriend or fulfilling some sort of public service?), but the last one was just scrawled across the sidewalk, making me wonder, who, in a spontaneous fit of joy, grabs a can of spray paint, without any sign of premeditation or planning (unlike the stenciler)? But it also made me think about Jason Evans who takes a photograph of something that makes him happy every day. His site, The Daily Nice, is about his “enthusiasm for looking and being.” It’s a fun site; photographs and taking photographs do make people happy, myself included.

This photograph is not from The Daily Nice but is from Jason’s portfolio site, The New Scent. I choose it because I think it is something that Jason saw while walking and looking down and thinking (like I was today). And maybe he was thinking about art and photography, and funny things that other people say, and other people, and seeing and being and loving. Maybe he was thinking about all the things that save your life when you know that astrology won’t.