Musings And Confusions – January 30 2014

I just forgot. Last some weeks, I just forgot that I have been trying to write these short pieces. Apologies, but lets begin without much further ado.

Somalies on ice. We love these kinds of stories – remember the Jamaican bobsled team, because they very subtly carry an element of the unbelievable, unusual, and unexpected. And so once again, in time for the corporate production that is something called The Olympics, comes another story of black / brown people valiantly behaving like our imagined idea of ‘us’. Lets also be honest, such ‘feel good’ stories also carry within them that racist prejudice that believes that black / brown people are generally too backward to indulge in what are clearly rich people activities. We are surprised and amused at their temerity, and their desire to belong to our world. Much of our bigoted amusement comes from the way these stories are produced and presented because they exploit the element of ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ at their efforts. So the Swedes are at it too these days it seems. Details »

Our Modernity And Old Questions Or Szarkowski Sees Eggleston And The Tomorrow

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I saw the image above – from Alec Soth’s Instagram feed, and said to myself: I hope Alec will read John Szarkowski’s introductory essay to his son. I have never completely agreed with Szarkowski but that hasn’t meant that I am dismissive of him as a critic, and a thinker when it comes to the art of photography. The essay he wrote to introduce the book that Alec’s son is holding in the picture above – William Eggleston’s Guide is actually a rather prescient and insightful one. There are two points in particular that Szarkowski makes that I believe remain relevant to our imagined ‘heady’ times as far as photographer is concerned. Details »

New Paths From Old Dead Ends

Last summer we made our way to Bosnia and Serbia, ostensibly to, as I then described, explore:

…how people create history through memory, myths, bedtime tales, family stories, personal anecdotes, official commemorations and collective rumors. The idea is to understand how histories are created, memories perpetuated, myths passed on, and animosities maintained. About how if you refuse to speak and confront modern history, you leave an entire world open to mythology, rumor, fabrication, and perhaps most dangerously, personal injustices, and visions of revenge. That where there is no reconciliation, confrontation, accommodation, and acknowledgment, there will always remain a sense of being wronged, and denied.

It wasn’t the most successful of trips, despite the fact that we found most of what we were looking for. What we did not find was a clear and precise narrative structure that would allow us to pull this together into a coherent piece of work. What we did find were layers and layers of overlapping, and often contradictory histories, each vying for authenticity, and each backed by ‘hard’ facts. Details »

The Evolution In Photo Project Design Continues – New Challenges And Some Obstacles

I have had to step away from things. I am still exhausted from the discussions in New York, and their implications. These trips always leave me excited but also overwhelmed. In some ways the new projects have been clarified, in others ways they have become more demanding. Some days I am ready to sit and write prodigiously, and on other days I just want to retreat from the tasks ahead. At this moment, I am in the retreat phase. But, some transformations are taking place as I wrote in my last post. The new image – text structure is being worked on and it has simplified much, and offered new possibilities for future works. Details »