I miss the magic. When art is good its magic. It’s something outside of ourselves. Something bigger, greater. An amazing man and curator I once worked for said: “It’s when you run out of linguistic litigation…” You can’t justify it. That it’s good. That it’s beautiful. You just know it to be true. Some people call that god. Some people call it love. Some, call it art. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really lovely people. Almost everyone I photograph I fall in love with. Not in an inappropriate-lets have a torrid affair-type way. [sometimes yes] But love in its purest form. Not requiring a sexual dance of power. This happens especially when I draw someone. Once I know them line by line there’s this new silent intimate understanding I have of them. As if wherever we are I can see them naked. Infantile and fragile. And how do you not love and protect that thing with fierce loyalty? It’s reflexive. As if I really don’t have a choice.
They say there’s two types of photographers – the intrusive and the not intrusive. It doesn’t matter which you are, the greats come from both sides. It’s just the making of two different worlds. An innate behavior to navigate the world in a specific way. I’ve always been the not intrusive. Even when I watch myself working and I think I should be more assertive, give direction, speak up, use my diaphragm. I can’t, it’s not me. I’m sitting, I’m thinking. It’s all so attractive already, I just look and make those photos. It doesn’t need me to tell it how to be. It’s lovely.
When I was a kid I used to photograph my sister constantly. She would say “You need to talk more during photo shoots.” I can’t, I’m thinking.
Everyone in my family is catching cancer. Catching it from their nicotine addictions. Mainly we have two things – addiction and cancers caused by addiction. I’ve always been fascinated with my grandmother. Not because I’ve always liked her but because with our silent eyes we tell each other we recognize the darkness. Hey pot, you can call me kettle. She’s been on and off the booze for a bit now. Once, years ago, my mother threw her a party at her favorite restaurant. She showed up drunk, in her slippers and a bathrobe that hung on her inconsiderately. Strangely glamorous and heartbreaking at the same time. In many ways she’s lovely. In more ways she’s sick and carries the vulnerability of a child. The kind that leaves you walking away a bit heavier. She’s doing her best. Who the fuck isn’t?
Once for a young birthday of mine she picked us up in her smelly Buick with back windows that only went halfway down and drove us to a train station for a scenic ride. I loved trains. Anything masculine really and largely because it was the ‘controversial’ thing to do. Once I became an altar boy in church. Not because I believed in god or was under any illusion that the church was a good idea, but because they said girls weren’t allowed.
We got on board and were shown to our reserved seats in the bar car. Right before take-off this barrel of people, in slow motion, came stampeding down the aisle boorishly singing the birthday song. Cake in hand, name inserted. One of my many ideas of a worst nightmare. I slowly lowered my forehead to the table like an anchor and never looked up again. I had on these red, matte leather Mary-Jane’s that I loved. I hated shiny leather but I loved matte leather. Shiny was too eye-catchy. I love that its hard and soft, that it easily moves with you but still protects you – that it keeps track of the places you’ve been, the marks you’ve made. Documents your tiny little life. They just felt like the truth. I watched them for the next two hours, tracing the lines and curves with my eyes. I missed the whole ride.
It’s hard to be photographed. I’m certainly not good at it. The camera always creates an unnatural element. Mostly people get used to you and forget. Recently I saw this thing that took my heart. I feel the physicality of it now. Watching it again in my head. It felt like heartache. Heavy. It wasn’t that I thought what I was seeing was wrong or that I don’t absolutely love acting in the same way. It was the persistence. The need. The vulnerability. The unsatisfying hunger. And I wanted to ease it for her. The worst is not the punch in the face, it’s the itch you can’t scratch. The flies around the cows face. The fag in between your fingers.