Photography: Meditations, II

“We are all in this process of surviving our own murder. We survive ourselves somehow.”
- Fred Moten


How and what we remember is one way to define ontological coordinates, if not identity itself. That we do so differently not just from one another but from our own selves in different times, places or moods, could lead us toward a simple theory of subjectivity: our selves in the present are not the only selves that exist. They are contingent, not inevitable, though their totality is no less truth than illusion. What we walk around in and with informs (or, more precisely, attempts to inform) how we interpret the world around us. As an artist, I am reminded of this whenever my work encounters an audience. What is made of an image or an utterance cannot be divorced from the stories the interpreting person brings to their interpretation.

Yearning is both the subject of and the impetus for my work. I study what impels me, what has impelled so many of the people I know and love. I take my walks through the wilderness, this feeling’s territory, marking and mapping my path in strokes, utterances I arrive at through surrender. At best these strokes emerge from a surrender to what I can discern of truth. At worst they are a reply to madness, which might also be a rejoinder to chaos, disorder. This disorder, just below order’s surface, announces itself in moments of strangeness, those Narnia-meets-Twilight Zone-instants mundane and pure in my neighborhoods and in the worlds beyond them. These moments invite disenchantment: disorder peeks through to announce that the world’s order has holes, that if you look closely at it you may find that what sustains the world’s order is not knowledge but belief, not certitude but a choice gone underground. 

I am not, I do not pretend to be, detached from the subject or composition of this work. I am dissatisfied. I am of a generation of the dissatisfied, the disenchanted. I want something and I don’t know what that something is, even though I feel its lack. When I’m making my work, that discomfort attenuates. When I see something I’ve made out in the world, ontological want, if only briefly, lifts from my heart. I have expressed. The expression is available to my senses. I warm towards satisfaction.