Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter in the Cemetery

This beautiful life-size pieta is a family memorial in the Asian section of Earthman Cemetery
Some years ago I was told that you cannot make art by photographing someone else’s art. I don’t think it was a comment directed toward me specifically but rather a general opinion offered to a group of photographers. At that time I was working on a project that Janet and I were doing together, Art in the City. We wanted to document the plethora of art that was on public view in Houston. I thought about doing a book on the subject but soon realized that would be an overwhelming undertaking that I had neither the time nor the talent to complete. I still work on the project but with more realistic expectations.

I don’t know that I was as much interested at the time in creating art as I was in simply doing fairly decent documentations of the works on display. But in thinking about it I do a great deal of photographing other people’s art from sculpture, to architecture, to graffiti, to manikins in antique stores. Am I creating art, I am not sure that I am but in interpreting the works of others through my photography I think may be tilting it just a little in the direction of art. Frankly, to me it is immaterial. I photograph what I find interesting with little if any thought of it being art. Which is what I personally believe that artist do.

Of course, someone forgot to give that same lecture to Richard Prince (see previous article) and he is millions of dollars richer as a result.

I think there is a difference between what I do and what Prince did. It is up for interpretation but I don’t think I am appropriating the works of other as much as I am finding my message within their works. Yes, I sometimes document for my own purposes what I see for future reference but that is not my main goal. I simply want to show what I respond to.

This morning Alcy and I were at Earthman Cemetery in an area that is dominated by Asians of the Christian faith. They do not hold back. The statements regarding their faith is strongly written and displayed in their memorials. As Easter services let out they came to the cemetery almost in caravans to pay their respects. We moved to another section so as not to interrupt. There were scattered visitors around the cemetery, but nothing to compare to the Asian area.

I wanted to work on what may be my portfolio this October at Northwest. At the present it is tentatively being called Small Manifestations.  I am looking for artifacts that have been placed on the grave sites that draw a connection to either the deceased or to those left behind. Truthfully, I am most interested in objects that have a feeling of poignancy or objects that have a religious connotation. I have been doing photographs along this theme for a couple or three years but never really devoted time to it. Now I am.

I haven’t decided exactly how I will present the photographs, or even for sure the name of the portfolio. That will come as more work is done. I believe very much in letting the photographs take on their own life and it is best if I just follow along.

1 comment:

  1. It was a good day.The smell of incense on a soft breeze and the families praying for the deceased and a chance to see the tiny tributes placed lovingly on the tombstones.