The Indians say to draw someone’s portrait is to steal their soul. I take photographs, does it mean that I am just borrowing them? Though photography is like stealing – you rob someone of a moment that exposes something essential about their character, their soul if you like. To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. The terrifying thought that everyone, friend or foe, can get so close to you, look you straight in the eye and judge you without having any control over it or being able to respond. A part of them has become the property of the photographer. All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s, or thing’s, mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt. Between photographer and subject, there has to be distance. The camera doesn’t rape, though it may presume, intrude, trespass, distort, and at the farthest reach of metaphor, assassinate – all activities that can be conducted from a distance, and with some detachment -- still, there is something predatory in the act of taking a picture.
Great artists make the roads; but there ain’t no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction – you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart. I’m a photographer, less an artist. As the word ‘art’ might scare people off. Creative vision? Sorry, this is gallery nomenclature. I take a photograph because it’s there, and I’m there and because I can do it. It’s a passion. A life’s journey seen through the lens, for all to see and feel as they each will, personally. In my opinion, a camera is a mirror of a photographer’s soul, reflected in the work done. The 'click' of the camera signs the work. My work is signed with a heartprint -- without heart, photographs would be mere images.
I see it all through the lens of my camera – the flurry of movement, the venue girl staff in short dresses, giving orders to their heads. As I take it all in, my mind weighs the texture, the composition, the possibility of each changing scene, and I struggle to hold back, to keep my finger from pressing too soon. Click, click. With the Daguerreotype everyone was able to have their portrait taken, formerly it was only the prominent, and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same, so we shall only need one portrait. It is a cruel, ironical art. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down. It is all about secrets. The secrets we all have and will never tell. A photograph is a secret about a secret -- the more it tells you, the less you know.
Film makers have numerous frames in a second. They have minutes or hours, actors and background music to tell a story. As a photographer, you have a single frame only and you have to trust the image to tell the story. Photographs can never be an accessory to the story, they must contain it so the best pictures contain a whole war within one frame. Photographs may be more memorable than moving images because they are a neat slice of time, not a flow. Each still photograph is a privileged moment turned into a slim object that one can keep and look at again. I don’t strive for the perfect image. I prefer photographs with some imperfections, mostly they are more simpatico. Perfection is a boring end and is dishonest if we are to believe that photography reflects life. Although a photograph must reflect the truth. This is the unwritten contract between the photographer and the viewer. A photographer must be credible -- No lies. No fakes. Pure, raw and honest.
In the darkness of the light a Broken Barbie weeps: "My flesh was violated and my heart has been damaged. A dark evil harassed me and abused me. My porcelain world was wrecked and began to crack and break. I’m crushed by that evil, sucked into the darkness of fear! I’m weak – for the hurts haven’t passed away yet. I am doomed to helplessness and pain.’ The Creator Shaman was passing by when he heard her weeping and placed his totemic lens on the ground under her eyes blind with tears: ‘See here, you are broken but not dead! Forget what lies in the past, and reach forward, to what lies ahead. I’ll boost your weaknesses with my totemic lens – for power is made perfect in weakness. I’ll glorify your broken soul, and by serving creativity you will channel your tears into the book of powerful beings. Develop your wings and your feathers – one who has wings will fly off to immortality. A strong woman is a woman standing on tiptoe, shrugging her shoulders and lifting her head. My creativity resurrects you, once at every blink – at the speed of my shutter! Despair crushes the soul, but art has the power to heal and to remind us that we have one." ~ Shadia Alem
She sits on the dirty ground, torso propped against a peeling wall, head pinned there, hair weeping onto her face, her arms spread apart to the sides. A brown wrapping paper shudders in her left hand, the fingers of her right clasp a detached steering wheel as if clutching the wrist of a toddler who's veered off the pavement. Her black heel has slid sideways off her foot and panders the high arch with the leer of the clinging strap. Her breasts hang like large medals beneath her pleated top, and what of her vulva, is it ripped at the seams like the white cotton skirt that barely covers it, what of her womb, tender core of her being, the cigarette butts clustered around her other foot, a mass of sperm about the ovum, the full beer packs that lie beside her like small coffins, does her body yearn upwards, will she make a helix of herself as she did between many men's sheets? ~ Annie Rink
The materials fall in this tableau, for the eye to care only for the overall beauty of this captured energy of body within bodies within the photographer’s eye, the atoms are rearranging themselves, summing their dynamic to form a tableau within the tableau, the whole is showing through the cracks of body, like dawn’s cracks in the pitch-dark-night. The whole is captured here and forever, beyond whatever camouflage of body within bodies of nature, of man-made decay, of cracks and mend, of fire and rebirth. Bodies are nothing but a mirage. The creator puts us face to face with our wholeness, challenging: "Who says there is a break, what is a break? When there is nothing but these kaleidoscopic atoms at play, I play their mirages back and forth to life." ~ Raja Alem
There is something predatory about photography, it is the same with love. This mystery allows a glimpse of herself through the trap of the photographer's lens. Through this window she leads you down a road just far enough to show that she is present, you sense there is more to her than she cares to reveal but this is tantalizing, captivating. She will relieve your burden to hunt, her elegance and mystery causing you to be the envy of all hunters and so she becomes yours and gets entangled in your fisherman's net. Love is peculiar, unfathomable. In wise stories it is seldom a romantic tryst between two lovers, rather it is a combination of understanding and misunderstanding but it is an allure that pulls the photographic eye. There will come a time, however, that you see that part of her. That part that the photographer did not reveal, the skeletal vision that will follow you where you run. She is the one of whom most men are terrified but if you can endure, if you can find kindness somewhere to untangle and embrace her then she will reward you with passion. The mystery of her will voluptuously feed your every want and need, the destination of her remaining forever a million miles away. It is tremendously simple Sir -- are you brave enough to sleep with Lady Death? ~ Kalahari
I suppose that he told you everything that I keep locked away in my head but understand in a world so hungry for love it is no wonder that men and women are blinded by the glamor and glitter of their own reflected egos. No wonder that the revolver shot is the last summons. No wonder that the grinding wheels of the subway express, though they cut the body to pieces, fail to precipitate the elixir of love. In the egocentric prism the helpless victim is walled in by the very light which he refracts. To be able to give oneself wholly and completely is the greatest luxury that life affords. Real love only begins at this point of dissolution and it meets the aim of life which is to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely aware. A woman becomes mysterious, indescribably magnificent the moment a man gives her close attention, this is true even for the photographic image of her. He touches her lips, now suddenly bare of all the kisses that were put on some time before and then it’s done. Now love is a secret all over the block, it never stops even when your master fails and it erases the final wisps of pain. I’ve laid by this window long enough to get used to an empty room and I taught your master how you would long for me, no matter what he said, no matter what you’d do because greatness of heart leads to folly and ruin and is to a woman irresistible -- to the woman who loves, that is to say.
No man has tasted the full flavor of life until he has known poverty, love, and war. My roseate super-sensual mist has dissolved along with the exquisite, bonded misery that loving her has caused. How easy it is to make a slave of the master, how we hate to admit that we would like nothing better than to be the slave. I got what I’d paid for, love leaves such beautiful scars. I’m the innocent victim of a blinded alley where I begged her to stab me, she tore my shirt open and I was down on my knees. I staggered as she buried the dagger in her silhouette window light. Even in love the slave is always the master in disguise. The music plays and I see your heart displayed for me, don’t fall in love with me! I hope I don’t fall in love with you because I’ve lost my Saint Christopher now that I’ve kissed her. The ghosts who want a piece of the action, who sell the photographic memories like this one, they know. Ask any sailor or the old men in wheelchairs, who know: ‘The Woman’ is the defendant. She killed about a hundred and she follows wherever you may go, with her perfume on your shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey. Conquer her, subjugate her, bend her to your will, form her according to your desires – but she is much like a wild rose, beautiful and willing to draw blood so are you not the slave to your slave at the mere threat of her self-dependence? Subdue without fighting. Nothing breaks a woman more quickly than a complete surrender -- with no resistance she falls headlong into the trap.