When possible, I like to show my work in person before sharing it online. I prepared three new pieces for the July 2019 edition of Nashville’s downtown art crawl. The event was last night, which means it is now time to share them with everyone who couldn’t make it out in person. The general theme this month was “vernacular post-photography”. For now, I offer these without comment other than the artist’s statement I posted in the gallery. Over the next couple of days, I’ll work on post-mortem in which I’ll dig a little deeper.
It was a few years ago, now. I was sitting in a cafe (ok, it was a Starbucks) trying to work on something or other. At the table next to mine were a few women, one of them an antique dealer. As they discussed their work, the antique dealer recalled another dealer whose inventory included a basket of old photos she had labeled “Instant Family”. “What kind of person would buy something like that,” she mused. “Why on earth would someone buy a photograph of someone they don’t know? It’s all so creepy to me.”
I had to bite my tongue because, obviously, I am exactly the kind of person who would buy something like that. I have been for the last ten years. I still remember the first one I bought, a portrait of three young girls from Green Bay, WI. Why it caught my eye, I couldn’t say. Their identities are long lost to history. Stripped of all context, the image is of little value as anything but a curiosity.
But it haunted me. This trio peered at me through a century of history, frozen on the other side of the Spanish flu, two World Wars, and a Great Depression, yet they looked no different from any of the children I had ever known. And here they were, alone in a dusty antique shop, orphaned by the passage of time if not by fate. So, why would someone want a photograph of someone they don’t know? I suppose the answer is “because no one else does”.
That’s it for now. Each crawl is different. In a few days, I’ll share some thoughts on the July edition, both about the pieces I presented and the audience reaction.