Thursday, June 4, 2009

2 photo projects that prove being an obsessive documenter isn't always a bad thing at all, in the end....

I find as an artist or just someone concerned with notions of memory and time, that I am constantly grappling with the urges I have to document everything and the push I have to just let it all be.

I am in favour of both manners and ways of being, really, and there are occasionally examples I bump into that reinforce both the idea of creating a path to your life and work that others can follow, and of never looking back to see if things have grown over said chemin or not.

That said, I have been led lately to 2 amazing photo projects that show just why an extended and obsessive documentation of life in all its terrible glory can be so enriching to oneself and others, later on.

The first, a polaroid project that filmmaker and musician Jamie Livingston embarked on for decades beginning in the spring of 1979. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of his work through this blog entry on the mental floss blog.

His work, (the polaroid above was taken on the day I turned 1) both haunting and beautiful, is well worth spending a few hours absorbed in. As his project went on, he became sick with cancer, and the polaroids continue through to show the final expressions of someone living their life to the fullest amidst certain and likely death (he married just a short time before he did succumb to cancer, by the looks of it)

The second project is no less intimate even though it captures the hearts of more than an immediate circle around one person. This time, the person is replaced by an entire town, and is called the Oxford Project. It documents the same inhabitants of a small town in the states in 1984, and then 20 years later, in 2005.

Many of the people stayed in the town, and the photo essays are an array of sad and hopeful tales of everyday life. Really potent stuff, and both a reminder and a meditation on how human it is to do what you do and make-do-and-get-by, and how beautiful and poignant all the little bits and pieces are when looked at with a bit of thought and care.

1 comment:

  1. that's cool! I like the one from the first set, taken on my birthday. A bunch of dudes standing outside a metro. Too cool.

    The Oxford one is ghosty.