Thursday, April 26, 2007

Standing in Place

I mentioned the new Blindspot last week. I just found they have Jean Dykstra's short essay on "place" from this edition online - an extract:

"...Photography, being rooted in reality, has the capacity to find redemption simply by showing us the world in which we live, in all of its rich and astonishing detail. That's not to say that photography replicates reality. Even discounting the possibilities of digital manipulation, we know the medium is far more complex, more subjective, more nuanced. But for the photographers included here, at least, it all begins in the real world. Whether they have focused on the most banal details of scenes we overlook every day, or on magnificent landscapes we may never see with our own eyes, their photographs draw our attention to a place and hold it there. If, in contemplating these photographs, the notion of stewardship crosses our minds, if we consider our responsibility to those places we cherish, that's probably not an accident....

What these photographers have done, in fact, is to embrace and then transcend their own intimate connection to a place. Barbara Bosworth has done it in her photographs of a New England meadow and of the trees that inhabit it. In the tallest part of one tree, a snarl of bare branches against a pale blue sky, the limbs become disentangled, and a lone bird sits, poised for flight. That tree might be a pure embodiment of Adams's observation. It's a thing of beauty, pointing beyond itself, literally, toward the bird's flight out of the frame, but also figuratively, toward the way a place becomes a repository of memory, even a redemptive metaphor. But a place is always more than just a metaphor; it exists, and if nothing else, these photographs demand that we look closely and carefully. And, perhaps, that we ask ourselves how lightly we're walking on the earth, and what kind of footprints we're leaving behind. But in the end, Bosworth's photograph, like all of the photographs here, ultimately circles back again from metaphor to the place itself, to a tree in a meadow, in all its singularity..."
(Photo - Barbara Bosworth)

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