Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baggage Room

[I have drafted this essay as an introduction to the photographs I am showing this week in Houston, Texas at FotoFest 2012, a meeting place for gallery owners, museum curators, art collectors, and critics.]

Before you look at my work, I ask that you read this essay.

The thing that unites you and me is that we are both searching for images that matter. This task is made difficult, but not impossible, by the fact that photographs are everywhere, every place, and being created all the time by a growing number of people.

Are the images that matter the ones whose content was conceptualized, planned, constructed, executed, and synthesized?  To quote Paul Graham, the art world is eager to showcase artists who “use photography to illustrate their ideas, installations, performances and concepts.”  These artists operate by a creative process that art dealers can explain to their clients.  Curators of museums can explain these works to general public in a straightforward manner.  How these photographers work is readily understood.

But what about those photographers who engage the world as it is, whose works are not devised, arranged, or fabricated for special situations to imitate or replace usual realities.  One would think that, after the likes of Atget, Frank, Eggleston, Winogrand, and Graham, that the art world could appreciate a photographer whose work does not fit into a nice, neat, linear, coherent series.

If you could ask any of the artists above why they took a particular photograph, what they were trying to say, odds are that they would look at you as if your head were not screwed on straight. The answer to those questions is the image you behold.

The art world usually rejects work that it does not readily understand.  By readily, I mean within minutes.

For the most part, I am not interested in creating work that is easily understood.

I am presenting a work in progress, called Baggage Room. Since all the reviewers are not native English speakers, I will further explain the title. “Baggage” is American slang for a situation/condition/person/thing that gets in the way; a burden one is stuck with.  My photographs are designed to explore this concept, as well as the release or escape from “baggage.”  

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