Monday, October 20, 2008

The Importance of Homage

I don't work in a vacuum, no artist does, and I look to always pay homage to works that have had a significant impact on my life... and by default, my work.

I am a huge William Eggleston fan. Man, I could look at his photos all day, every day. He is a quintessential American photographer, who's impacted American photography from both sides of the camera... he changed the way many make photos and changed the way people look at America.



William Eggleston
Red ceiling, or Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973.

Red Ceiling has always been one of my favorite photos. Of all photos ever made.

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Here's a photo I've included in America...


hotel room ceiling_mirror red carpet 2751_2 copy 2_1 web

When I saw this room with red carpet walls and a mirrored ceiling, I was pretty sure I had entered the promised land. The idea that I could present an image like this including a mirror to talk about reflection... I could barely take it.

Here's to you, Mr Eggleston, I love your work more than you will know. This photo was included in tribute to how you've impacted my life and my way of seeing. I have nothing but respect and reverence for your work. Thanks.


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Red carpet played a big roll in America, and my hope is that the metaphor is obvious without being overpowering. The red-carpet treatment, to roll out the red carpet and to sweep something under the carpet... all idioms I thought about a lot during the ordering.

red carpet at all star stairs web.jpg
Cover

hotel room ceiling_mirror red carpet 2751_2 copy 2_1 web
Homage to Eggleson




Ah, now here's a photo I can barely look at. It's the floor where my friend had shot himself, taken the day he was found. I barely remember making the photo. It was made at the end of the day, after his body had been carried out. That was one of the worst days of my life. Why would I show this when it not just causes me a tremendous amount of pain, but so much pain to LB and Tina? I have checked with them and discussed it ad nauseum to make sure it would be ok with them. They both know why, and the meaning and importance of this photo, of pain and memory and anger and regret, but I still have a bit of trepidation in including it. But I would most certainly be remiss if I opted to ask strangers to show me intimate, and often painful things, and I wasn't willing to show my own intimate and painful moments.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my father committed suicide. In America I've placed the photo above across from an image of the Circus Circus parking lot, where my father worked right before his death. There's many secret placements in America.


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Back to the importance of directly referencing influences...

I show my slideshows with music... with love and respect for Nan Goldin's slideshow format, which was groundbreaking.


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Cy Twombly
Untitled
1970


scratches_0725 web
Scratches... with love and respect for Cy Twombly's work

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Anselm Kiefer
Seraphim
1983-1984

penitentiary_1127-Edit-Edit web
The United States Penitentiary Terre Haute, Timothy McVeigh Execution Site... with love and respect for Anselm Kiefer's work.


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My biggest influence is Bruce Springsteen, no doubt about it. Bruce Springsteen and Lisette Model have both talked about a working model of showing the specific to get at the universal, and I'm all about that.

Diane Arbus said, "My teacher Lisette Model... finally made it clear to me that the more specific you are, the more general it will be."

But, honestly, I was long into my commitment to that idea before I had any idea that Lisette Model had a method of teaching based around that maxim. My desire to work like that came more from "Candy's Room."



Here's the greatest musician in the world performing a cover of Dream Baby Dream.


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Dream Baby Dream
lyrics and music by Alan Vega and Martin Rev


dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby dream
forever,
and ever

keep those dreams burnin' forever
keep those dreams burnin
forever...
and ever..

dream baby dream
dream baby dream
forever

dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby, dream baby
dream baby dream
forever

dream baby dream
come on baby you gotta keep those dreams burnin'
keep those dreams baby
dream baby dream
dream baby,dream baby,
dream baby, dream baby
forever...

keep that flame burnin'
keep that flame burnin'
forever

dream baby dream
dream baby dream
forever, and ever
forever, and ever

yeah, those dreams keep you free
keep holding on yeah..

dream baby, dream baby,
dream baby.
forever and ever
dream baby dream

i see that smile on your face
yeah
yeah, makes you free
i see that smile
huh...
oh..

dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby dream
forever ...


"...rock and roll's never been about giving up. For me, for a lot of kids, it was a totally positive force. . . not optimistic all the time, but positive."

Bruce Springsteen
1978 Time interview

That's something I hope to have in my work, a strength to keep plugging away and an underlying positivity. Positive, but not unrealistic.

Bruce Springsteen Interview with Nick Hornby

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Here's a little digression...I know that I wrote somewhere about this before, but I just abhor the idea that we have to be so confined by what we think should effect us based on our identities, as opposed to what genuinely does impact and move us. I am a lesbian feminist and I am an pinko commie...and I don't mean light, sisters and brothers. That's who I've been for all of my adult life and a lot of my childhood. But I am also a professional sports fan. I'm a lavender menace and a fan of cock rock. I am both opposed to patriotism and a proud American. I watch America's Next Top Model and I love it.
But why can't I have it all, and fold all the things that I am into my work? I can, and no one can tell me that I can't. I am most certainly a hypocrite, and I have no problems with it. I want to be the phlebotomist and the transfusion recipient!


Here's from another huge influence in my life, Audre Lorde.


A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL
Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive


From The Black Unicorn

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"dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby dream
dream baby dream"

2 comments:

Steve said...

If you haven't already, you should read this book:

http://www.icp.org/site/c.dnJGKJNsFqG/b.2079813/k.1F81/Geoff_Dyer.htm

Steve said...

better link