Sunday, January 6, 2008

travels near and far, but not far enough

old film / fresh scan - I drove down this road every day for a week last year

"Place for me is the locus of desire. Places have influenced my life as much as, perhaps more than, people. I fall for (or into) places faster and less conditionally than I do for people. I can drive through a landscape and vividly picture myself in that disintegrating mining cabin, that saltwater farm, that little porched house in the barrio."
- Lucy Lippard, from Lure of the Local

I don't know if we all travel through the world in the way that Lippard describes, but I certainly do. Whether that landscape is two blocks away or across the world, I can't help but imagine myself in that scene, usually sitting, maybe with a book, maybe with a cup of coffee, never with a laptop. Inherent in the concept of landscape, there's always that element of possession & interaction.

Beth Dow, Lawn, Hall Place

Yesterday, Beth Dow gave a talk at Blue Sky where her "In the Gardens" work is currently on view. This work's fascinating in part because of what's not there- the hard edges and sharp details of reality. Dow's work resonates because of its removal from reality and an overall smoothness of texture and value. This is due in part to a great combination of large platinum palladium prints, England's all too beautiful light, pollution and mist, and a healthy dose of old-school compositional balance. Ultimately, the result is backdrop for fantasy- dozens of wonderful little places to let your mind wander.

Michael David Murphy, from the series Jim Crow Road

On the flipside of the equation, Michael David Murphy has just scared the hell out of me with reality. Murphy's subtle photographs made along the path of Georgia's Jim Crow Road only gain momentum when viewed along with his other series/Youtube slideshow on the Jena 6. For those who don't know about this case (and I didn't), the "Jena 6" refers to a recent case in Louisiana that began when a black student asked permission from a school administrator to sit under what had traditionally been a "whites only" tree. Later, three white students hung nooses from the branches of the tree. That led to a high school fight, and once the dust cleared, six black students were charged with beating a white student. The first to be tried, Mychal Bell, faced charges of attempted murder and had an all white jury. Fortunately, those charges were reduced, but Bell was still ultimately sentenced to 18 months, with charges still pending on the other five.

I guess I'm not the only one who fantasizes about just checking out and relaxing under a tree. Much as I'd like to hide inside Beth Dow's work, Murphy's reminds me how important it is to check back in with reality.

1 comment:

Michael David Murphy said...

Hey, thanks for the link, Shawn.