Mar 23, 2011

peanut butter, jelly and hand grenades

i was working on a lecture tonight, took a break, and saw the news of the American soldier who have plead guilty to killing Afghan civilians. the soldier from Wasilla was 22. 22. i can't pretend to understand.

back to work. the lecture i'm working on tonight focuses on Alec Soth's photographs, and his approach to book making with Steidl, his own imprint LBM, as well as Radius, Nazraelli and others. the whole thing has me a bit overwhelmed, and feeling decidedly lazy.

but after reading the news, and sitting with the books, i can't shake the single photo of Josh, Joelton Tennessee from The Last Days of W. i've long believed that Alec gave us a small riddle, or sorts, to solve here. i haven't asked him, and maybe the following association has been discussed before and i'm a little late to the party, but at this moment the gesture in question seems poignant.

Alec has stated his iffinity for Diane Arbus. a genuine influence, of which a seed of gratitude might have been planted for us. the two photos below are, to me, a quiet nod to the deceased Arbus. a visual lineage. a passing of time from one photographer to another. its all about that empty half-clenched fist. so discreet. a gesture that is of its own, at once awkward and unique. it brings both images into the now, but is just as much about the passing of time between the images. the grenade seen by Arbus pointing to the future, and the peanut butter and jelly of Soth pointing back. the gesture, the hand in an odd clench of an invisible curve ball, is the link.

i see Josh as that boy in Central Park - now, older. wiser. the youthfulness of Arbus' photo eclipsed by the reality of a childhood dream, maybe realized in Soth's image. the dream to be a soldier. all hand grenades and PB&Js

at these moments, i simply love photography, and its ability to facilitate intention, and sometimes something entirely different, all at once.

1 comment:

patcaribou said...

i went to the alec soth show at the walker in december...absolutely amazing. the new series, broken manual about people (mainly middle aged white males) who decide to drop out of society and live as hermits is, i think, his finest work...they were playing movie clips of "somewhere to disapper" about his working on the series...i'd like to see the whole film sometime.

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