me and them
Flagstaff Photography Center asked me to do a presentation tomorrow night on my wheat pasting project on the reservation. I put a power point presentation together about how I started doing the project. I included images of work by JR and will comment in the presentation tomorrow on how I felt upon first seeing this work. In truth, it's the same way I feel now in looking at JR's work once again - absolutely blown away.
He's got it all - technical prowess, imagination, the ability to produce gigantic installations and seemingly unlimited financial resources. It's enough to make me ask "...why bother?"
And then there's Fauxreel in Canada blowing the shit up.
Again, the question "...why bother?" haunts me. I thought about titling this rumination "me versus them." But it really isn't me versus them. It's me and them. Because we're working in the same medium doesn't mean they've exhausted everything that can be said in it (though JR has come damn close).
While preparing the presentation for tomorrow I came across a poignant quote from comrade Keith Haring that resonates with me. In fact, back in the 90s when I was doing what I called the Urban Guerrilla Art Assault in Flagstaff (posting photographs in public spaces), both Keith Haring and Diego Rivera were strong influences. Haring wrote in his journal October 14, 1978:
"...The public has a right to art. The public needs art, and it is the responsibility of a 'self-proclaimed' artist to realise the public needs art, and not to make bourgeois art for the few and ignore the masses."
Boom! And that's where I come into the picture. JR and Fauxreel aren't making art for people on the rez (although I extended the offer to you JR). And besides, just as Eugene Smith and Eugene Richards shot black and white humanistic photo essays, each had a different message. Eugene Richards didn't look at Smith's work and ask "...why bother?" If he did, he figured out a reason to keep moving forward leaving his distinctive mark in the world of photography.
It's not a competition. It's about personal growth and the journey with the art form as the medium. My journey has been incredible so far. So, to my peers - here's to moving forward together.
Me and them.