Carol and Mariah

While waiting for a bus after a quick teeth cleaning in Boston’s Copley Square, I walked by two homeless gentlemen. One was in a wheel chair and had amputated legs. He was wearing a bright yellow soccer jersey. The other was sitting and rising and sitting and rising in an almost nervous routine. His jersey was a bright but deep blue soccer style as well.

The man in the wheel chair asked of his companion, “Don’t you just love Carol Channing? I really love that woman!” To which the man moving in swift up and down motions replied, “It’s Mariah for me. I don’t think that woman knows how hot she is.”

I wasn’t sure which of these lines I enjoed more, so I leave them for you to ponder… Carol Channing or Mariah Carey? And is it possible that Mariah has no idea how hot she is? And why do we know who these women are anyway? Or do we know who they are? Another crazy life moment on the street.

The only photo of Pisa

So recently while returning from Glasgow Scotland, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a happy couple that had just completed a whirlwind European vacation. The gentleman was in shorts and a red polo shirt and the woman, also in shorts, wore a flowery loose fitting shirt. They were both plump but seemed quite happy if not a little exhausted. The man in the duet got comfortable in the chair behind me and after an awkward silence finally came out with something that was on his mind. He said to his partner, “Honey, please dont take nine months to get your film processed this time. You know, when they rushed us all off that bus I broke into a sweat and completely forgot what I was doing. I left my camera on the seat of the bus. You now have the only photo of Pisa.”

There was something amusing and profound about the idea that the only photo of [the leaning tower of] Pisa is resting in the latent cannister of a happy yet exhausted tourist couple from middle America.

B and B and the corruption of photography

Today I had lunch with my friend Costa. He is a remarkable photographer and is wise in his experience and image making. We realized today that we have been friends for nearly twenty years… perhaps seventeen to be more exact. Anyway, he has been a remarkable friend and mentor and in our too brief lunch, he continued to guide and jabb at the institution of art photography. There were two specific things that jumped out of the conversation:
B and B
Costa coined a great expression in describing an exhibit he recently witnessed at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston: B and B (Big and Boring.) While flip, it does address the scale issues I have been thinking a lot about lately. It seems that gallerists and artists and collectors have somehow been courted and won over by technological confections over innovation of thought. Big images hanging on gallery walls around the world have become the confection of the day. Just because you can print it large, should you? Where are the notions of small and intimate? And boring is an unfortuante truth behind so many of the images that have rolled off these amazing digital printers.
Photography has been corrupted by the institutions of art
This was quite the loaded statement. I have been reading The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton recently. I have to say, that while Costa’s strong opinion on such matters often seems extreme, I found myself sympathizing with his idea. Our conversation spun around the issue of “truth” in images for a while. The chat brough to mind the James W. Loewen book Lies My Teacher Told Me. The premise being that in reality there are so many more compelling moments than in fiction. So what does this mean about Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson and their peers? The manufactured truth? The manipulated image?

And, if art has corrupted photography, where will photography find a friend? What does it mean? Does it mean that photographs are a thing of their own… neither art, nor commerce, nor trade? Maybe photographs transcend definitions:


v. tran·scend·ed, tran·scend·ing, tran·scends
v. tr.

1. To pass beyond the limits of: emotions that transcend understanding.
2. To be greater than, as in intensity or power; surpass: love that transcends infatuation. See Synonyms at excel.
3. To exist above and independent of (material experience or the universe): “One never can see the thing in itself, because the mind does not transcend phenomena” (Hilaire Belloc).

So our chat went on for much longer and covered a lot of ground around his Magnum Photo friends and his recent works etc. He is off to his annual Magnum meeting next Monday so Im guessing thats why it was all so top of mind. Sounds like that meeting is quite an event.

Anyway, Costa is a wonderful friend and a great conversation. I miss the times we had together way back when…

I have no more tears

Recently the expression “I have no more tears.” came up in conversation. It made me sad. Does it make you sad? What a powerful statement. Is that going to happen to me? Has it happened to you? I have to say, hearing this sent me into a private panic… will there be a day when “I have no more tears?” What will that day look like? What is a world without tears? What is a world without happiness? Hmmmm…