Here are a couple of thoughts about 2017 and how to make sense of it. I am NOT going to expound about the state of the world and the hideous political situation we are in. Instead I am going to talk about a subject that I love – my photographs and how they have changed in the course of the year.
The year started off with a big bang which never let up! I shot more images in 2017 than ever before in my life. Of course, not dealing with film and processing makes a HUGE difference, but that is not all. As I look in the rearview mirror I see that not only am I over the hill, but halfway down the other side! Instead of slowing down however, I have sped up.
In 2017 I had 88 different shoots – which translates to 1.7 shoots a week for 52 weeks or .25 shoots a day for 365 days.
To show how my work has changed over the last year I have divided the year in two parts; pre and post my Vatican visit.
Emphasizing the edges and scratched surface of the mirror lends a shattered feel to my Pre-Vatican images such as in Untitled #05-01-17-819. A large triangular shard cuts into the frail, broken figure, making him appear thin and brittle. This shard, ending in a cracked point in his leg, implies fragility, uncertainty, pathos, and even hopelessness.
The trip to Rome this fall had to include, of course, a chance to worship at the feet of one of the greatest geniuses of all time – Michelangelo. For more on my trip to the Vatican see Blog Post Want a lesson in how to ruin brilliance?
Michelangelo did not let me down. From despair to rapture, the expansive expression in his paintings at the Sistine Chapel, stunningly depict the extremes of the human condition – and he did all of this within the framework of Christianity. As a non–Christian it was easy for me to ignore the religious overtones and contemplate the momentous figures sculpted out of paint.
Back in my studio I studied the dark, grim figures on the wall. I loved them (still do) but I wanted a shift – to what, I did not know. The shape of the mirrors has been my major concern for the last couple of years, which means emphasizing sharp edges, breaks, points and cracks. But with a minor change in focus I made a MAJOR shift in seeing! I moved my focus from the surface and edge of the mirror to the figures. The mirrors are still defining the forms, but without the cracks, scratches and marks on the surface I began to explore lines and forms. Ask anyone who has ever studied with me – I LOVE LINES AND FORMS!
Without faces and heads the work becomes less psychological and more gestural reminding me of images I have made in the hot tub through the years.
When I started this journey in 1983 I had no idea that in 2018 I would still be on it. As I look back I don’t see a straight path, but rather a spiral where I periodically come back to similar visual concerns. The first time I explored the form of the body (eliminating the head and face) was in 1992, I picked up on it again 14 years later in 2006. 12 years later I am once again concerned with the forms and lines of the body but this time I am doing it, not in a hot tub, but in a studio with mirrors.