Jun 27, 2011

Jo Ann Walters and The Boss

the Springsteen documentary about Darkness on the Edge of Town about the making of the album of the same name is so rich with fire and artistic creation. i had it playing in the background again this morning, while playing with sequences of photos and themes.

at :57 Springsteen speaks about instinct & intelligence. the idea that, when he was younger he burned hot on only instinct - the idea that every decision he made was based on the fact that something "doesn't feel right". but, if you're fortunate and open to investigation that, eventually, intelligence will fill in the gaps and be there to back up that instinct. and, that the trick is to cultivate the two methods of working, and not to let one snuff out the other.

it's such an important and difficult notion. it made me think of a similar sentiment that Jo Ann Walters speaks of in her interview with Amy Stein a few months ago on her blog. i've gone back to this interview so many times. Walters speaks in a way that is so rare. she obviously knows her own work, and the visual language she is engaging.

maybe concocting a relationship between Springsteen and Walters is a stretch, but i would wager that their approaches are more similar than not.

it's this push and pull of intuition and intelligence that i'm beginning to see is the bedrock of a successful project. in the field, i find i run heavy on instinct. i will never see this person again...the light is fading. its about opportunity and reflex. but, later as i'm editing, printing, and trying to make sense of the pieces i've created its that intelligence i'm mining.

From Amy's interview of Jo Ann:

"AS: As someone who doesn't work on projects so close to home, I always wonder how you (and photographers like Doug Dubois and Chris Verene, for example) separate your personal interest in the subject from your instincts as a photographer. Or do you? Are you trying to make the intimate universal?

JAW: This is an ongoing dilemma, a paradox really, and elemental tension that I wrestle with. It is a question of separating and integrating at once the complex emotions, associations, memories and conceptual attitudes related to one’s home and family with the analytical and evaluative criteria of judgment. I want to translate and make my beliefs and values accessible to a larger world. The goal I think is to find a visual correlative in the world that translates photographically. I’ve learned to trust my intuitive gifts as well as my intellectual ones. I treat all with equal respect. In my best work you can feel that same genrative tension and conflict. You can see the tension of wrestling to keep all in suspension so I can call on any or all when needed. These oppositions are not so much reconciled as accepted. When I work, I try to hold making, knowing and judging in meaningful suspension and trust that what is necessary will come to my aid. It’s a matter of preparation, practice and attention. Of course this is a gross simplification of the process."

i want to sit in one of Jo Anne's classes, or better yet, buy her a drink and dig deep into it all. or, just listen to her talk about her work and listen to Darkness at the Edge of town.

all images © Jo Ann Walters

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