Monday, December 24, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Here are the links for the three short slide shows I created for an evening with Chris Vitiello at The Casbah. Had to miss it myself, but the event got me to focus on making two new pieces and reworking a third. Nothing like a deadline.
One at a time, with some text for each and an introduction:
Obsessive photo taking.
I see the world as multi faceted. I think it's partly on account of never being quite sure of what I think. I have very few strong opinions; I can see it this way, and that. It is here I begin to find my desire to work in a multi-framed world, a composite world.
The image I consider to be the one where I begin my artist's journey is one that has many views; it's an image of my father as a young boy, and my grandparents, with landscapes running in and out of figures, vines winding their way into indoor spaces, limbs of trees crossing time and space, both virtually, within the picture, and actually, across the metal plate. That initial image takes as its subject the passing of time. It is, in the end, part of what haunts and sustains me in my work, this manifestation of passing time, both within a single picture plane and in and of itself, i.e., actually having time pass while looking. The use of multiple images within one lends itself very nicely to the act of obsessive photo taking. I'm very often thinking of composites, groups of photos in a single composition as opposed to the one decisive moment/image or the grouping across minutes of many images, as you will experience this evening.
Heredity also plays a part. My father was a documenter; slides, photos, home movies, and, much to my sister's and my delight and startled sense of family history and longing for our father who had died 30 years earlier while going through everything in our childhood home, reel to reel tapes. It seems this constant documentation of family is part of my inheritance.
Another aspect to my obsessive photo taking has to do with, I believe, coming to photography later in life. I started out as a printmaker in college and for the year after. I was soon feeling the desire to paint, to create in a more immediate medium - no more of the very complicated process of covering a metal plate with an acid resist liquid which dries and then scraping through the acid resist with a sharp tool, placing the plate in an acid bath, the acid eating through the metal in the places that have been exposed, washing off the acid resist, inking the surface of the plate and rubbing it into the grooves, wiping off the surface, and finally putting the plate through a high pressure printing press together with a sheet of moistened paper. I was done with that; I wanted to paint. And I did, for 20 years. It was only when we moved here 16 years ago that I started using a camera full time. I was already in my 40's, and had the feeling that in some way I had to "catch up", I had to take my first 10,000 photos which would be my worst (according to Cartier-Bresson).
A cross section of humanity passing in front of B & H Photo in NYC, bookended by my family. Music: Caprice, from "Solfeggieti" by Allen Anderson; Aleck Karis, piano.
This particular day starts out in the kitchen, moves to the back hall, shadows of windows and myself, shadows of me blended with the River Oak outside our front door, other leaves, my face erased by clouds, maps of NC collaged into paintings, strange that I used maps of North Carolina years before I ever knew I would move here; moving upstairs, self portrait in my bedroom, on my bed, where I spent the month of August recovering from surgery, blended images of my mom and myself, my mom who died in February, out to my car, my odometer, reaching 50,000 miles, trip to Carolina Friends to pick up Claire, who then, on our return home, is lying on my bed, blended images of my hand and Claire, and others, again outside, driving to Ellis's house, portraits of my son who is channeling his relatives, the sepia photographs of my father, back home, last photo of Claire and me at the end of the day, in an elevator. The day as microcosm.
A Note About The Music
A Note About The Music
The music I used for “As the Day Goes” is titled “Kalimankou Denkou (The Evening Gathering)”, sung by the Bulgarian Women’s Chorus. There is nothing, really, that connects this particular song and the images shown. It is not because of the implications of Bulgarian music or any specific translation of lyrics that suggested its use for this piece. Of course my piece does move through the day and ends in the evening, but it is, rather, the plaintive tone, the general sense of old world longing that draws me to it, that makes it seem fitting for my piece about a day in my life. It has all the tonalities of the shul (synagogue) in Hurleyville, New York, where I spent the Jewish High Holidays and many weekends, as a child with my father’s sister, my Aunt Olive, and most of the Hochbaum sisters, brothers, cousins and our Zedi, my grandfather. It reminds me as well of the Yemenite music I danced to as a child and as a young adult. It is this resonance, this connecting tonality, that drew me to the Bulgarian women, singing about an evening gathering, and, to me, calling up memories of my my own childhood. It is, in the end, an apt accompaniment, I think, to a piece which follows the course of a day, ends in the evening and includes my own children with their countenances recalling those others always present and potent in their absence.
I've been to Paris four times.
The first time was in the summer of 1971 for 5 days on my way home from a summer in Israel.
Four years later, in 1975, upon my graduation from Brandeis University, I received a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship to study a new kind of printmaking that was being developed at Atelier 17, an old, established and, at that time, very important print shop in Paris. I found an apartment in the middle of Paris, the 5th arrondissement. When Allen, my then boyfriend, now husband, came to visit, he could touch both walls by standing in the middle and leaning to either side. But it had a shower, a very coveted item. I lived there for 7 months.
My third time in Paris was in 1983 when Allen and I went there as part of our honeymoon trip. We were there for a few days, maybe 4 or 5. I remember that we stayed in the Welcome Hotel, but not much else. My mind was on Italy, where we were headed, where we had headed in 1975, from Paris, on a train, for 26 hours, through the Alps, on a full moonlit night. My heart was not in it.
My fourth time was just recently. I spent a week there at the end of May, 2012. In 2008 my sister and her fiancé spent a year in Paris. They discovered they could live anywhere after they'd been together for about 6 months and decided they would live in Paris. Every May since, they have spent the month back in the city they love, and where they became fiancees. I was never able to join them as our mother's health was not good and I didn't feel comfortable with both my sister and I being out of the country at the same time. Our mom died on February 22nd. Her death, it turned out, meant that in May I could join Susan and Joel in Paris. It was only for a week, but it felt as momentous as my 7 months in 1975.
I never went to the Eiffel Tower those first three visits. I saw it, surely, from afar, from the top of Notre Dame, or from Montmartre. But for some reason, maybe the idea that I was too cool to go to the most cliched symbol of Paris, I didn't take the time to go up to it. Not so this time; I was determined to go, and on the 4th day of my week in Paris this May, Susan and I took the Metro ride to Bir Hakeim where we could view the tower. My sister prepared me for turning the corner of a building and seeing it in the distance but I was unprepared for what would follow. I burst into tears. It was incredibly moving, the power and beauty of the thing, the enormity of it, and the significance - all those visits rolled up into one sight, the missed viewings, at the cusp of my adulthood, at the beginning of my journey as an artist, at the beginning of my journey as a wife. My mom was gone and that fact allowed me to be here, looking at the symbol of a city that had drawn me in 4 times. In fact, I had no idea how significant, for it turned out that at that moment, and in two days I would discover, I had cancer. Again. But that's another story.
This piece is only a minute 14 seconds.