Regardless of intended and perceived meaning, these are loving portraits with words that attempt to convey the pain of the woman [DeVille] loves. The work is very personal. It is satisfyingly personal and in earnest, an attempt to deal with suffering.
Category: Camera Reality
This isn’t a meta photobook review. That is to say, it’s not a photobook review about photobooks. And it’s not about me reviewing photobooks. It’s about the terror of stillness and that, “That’s what calls me to the Midwest,” writes Nathan Pearce in conclusion of his latest Midwest Dirt iteration.
Through photograph, Tara confronts pain and isolation in a way that promotes honesty–like how good it feels when the family visit is over the way mustard tastes on hotdogs, the satisfaction of an empty house, the let down of an iced lake and the repose of a ruined day.
These point and shoot snapshots that make up Married to America by Justin Clifford Rhody are unconcerned with American beauty, picturesque plateaus, the fog of golden hour, or road trip tropes. This marriage is more like beige linoleum, a toilet painted black and chipping, or a tin bust of our first American father. More like honesty than infatuation. More like fancy-up what we’ve got—ketchup on scrambled eggs.
“Making the leap was such a physical and social experience, but also an intensely interior and private one; your friends teased you until you did it, but then you’re all alone in that eternity between flight and splash.”
“I certainly believe in the importance of bearing witness to what stands before us (or as photographers, what we choose to stand before), while honoring that we may not know or understand what it is we are actually seeing, and may never.”
Remembrance is just as prevalent in Birmingham-based fine art photographers Jared Ragland and Cary Norton’s collaborative project GUSDUGGER—of which the series Where You Come From Is Gone is included—as it was integral to the 2016 political campaign slogan: Make America Great Again, but the two could perhaps not be further divided. If MAGA remembers a time we as Americans are to reclaim, then Where You Come From Is Gone remembers what we took and the places deconstructed to make this country what it is today.
“Before Hurricane Irma, I spent a week frantically throwing all of my belongings into plastic bags. […] I came to the obvious realization that most of us, myself included, have an unhealthy addiction to things. Trying to move and protect all of my belongings exhausted me so thoroughly that I simply left some things unwrapped. […] If I’ve learned anything from my subjects, it’s that we humans have a long way to go if we want to continue living on this planet, and we only have to look back a hundred years to understand that we are very capable of living without many of the things we think we ‘need'[.]”
“I’ve always felt that the urban blight was the opposite end of the connective tissue of living. We really can’t have Central Park without the landfill that supports the garbage left there or the bulldozed refuse that created that space […] Someone has felt this before, is feeling this, and perhaps that this is the proper and eventual flow of the universe. I believe it might be through this that we have hope.”
Photographs of burnt out car shells made in detail like insurance claims appear approximately one-third of the way into Colin Stearns’ all that cannot be said. Everything prior—brick walls, a wedding dress and tux on window display, wrought iron fences, flowers left as memorial tied to telephone poles, missing persons signs—read like a long prologue to the charred remains.
Other than poverty, what exactly the cigarettes (and alcohol and drugs) throughout Gravity Is Stronger Here help Dooney’s subject matter escape isn’t fully on display in the photographs alone. Not that poverty is not oppressive enough. Not that it doesn’t promote a feeling of ineptitude. The Browns appear to be stuck and at times seem to not know what to do with their situation any more than what to do in front of the camera. At times they feel very aware of the camera’s presence, mugging unnaturally through their drugs, God, boredom, and a whole lot of doing nothing. But in text and visual clues one learns that the Browns have internal and external struggles. They deal with difficult situations with great self-awareness and honesty. Accompanied by Libaire’s poems the sometimes overly dramatic feels sincere.
“The image is set within a predetermined frame, similar to the ones we are born into. The most we can do is recognize and stay aware of it, they will be wherever we go, including the most sequestered beaches.”
If what Grounded presents in pencil sketch is important, why not photograph it? Perhaps to say that a photograph can cut short clarity like it can bisect body parts and for better or worse we sometimes have to sketch in what is not there.
“Changes and experiences that were incredibly difficult for me are, in hindsight, beautiful and full of meaning and rooted in that landscape and with those neighbors. I still mourn that place and question leaving—it has a piece of my heart and always will.”