Mar 25, 2010

my goodness, he's having so much fun

i've been trying lately to not be so hung up in place. PLACE, what does that even mean? photography is inherently a mechanism interpreting place. at least, that's my opinion. that might be part of my problem.

i'm experimenting, lately, with a couple bodies of work that test my comfort level with description and representation. sinking my teeth into something i am having a difficult thing defining.

the further i get from place though - be it Alaska, Iowa, the West, the moon - the more the lack of tangibles gets me tied in knots.

this has brought me, in a round about way, to John Gossage's Here...Half Blind exhibition at the Rochester Art Center in February. the show was brilliant. the first room opened with three walls of a continuous ribbon of 40s and 50s era postcards of Rochester - supplied from the collection of a local doctor. the next room consisted of larger prints, thumb tacked to the wall, and all subject to jarring light leaks - awash in bright light and abstracts of forms from partial wholes (fate if ever there was). the remaining four rooms were straight forward Gossage at his best. idiosyncratic, compulsive, and spot on.

© John Gossage

i've been to Rochester several times in the years since my wife fell ill. its a small town with a big hospital. it is America. the heartland. i've found myself running, at night, in the the neighborhoods that Gossage walked. it's familiar yet unique. i've seen the types of kids he met. saw the flags. the detritus. the cars and fences.

this work made me stop and consider so many issues in my my own work as a photographer, but about community and people and time. place. his eye, his grit, perspective and compulsion created something permanent. the thing is though, that his approach, his framing, his rigor created something else as well - something more. something larger than just place. that's the rub.

i viewed this work on a Thursday afternoon with my wife. in the gallery were two other older patrons. the man - maybe in his seventies, balding, and bespectacled - seemed unimpressed and anxious. his wife, on the other hand, glided about the room, returning to photographs that she responded to and - clapping her hands - exclaimed time and again "my goodness, he is having so much fun, isn't he".

my interpretation of the work was a little less optimistic than hers, but i was buoyed by her excitement. i would like to think that, yes, John Gossage was having a good time. i guess that goes a long way to answering my own question about my hangup on place.


JG said...

I do indeed enjoy a good stroll in the heartland>


ben huff said...

JG? seriously?

you just made my blogging day

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