In 1983 I made a group of pictures in the town of Solothurn in Switzerland.
They were a breakthrough group for me. As big as Nantucket (my first series) or the Oakesdale Cemetery (made in 1997) pictures, these brought me into a new way of seeing, in making sequential pictures and established and confirmed a methodology that serves me to this day.
This was the first time I linked pictures next to each other. Putting something hinted at in one frame then clearly stated in the next but with the whole scene around it changing. A concept totally reliant on the very wide lens I used being held level to deceive the viewer into thinking all was normal when, of course, it was not. Note the laundry drying rack coming right up into your face in the second frame. That's an indicator at the severity of the width of the lens.
I wrote recently about the pictures from Arsenale in Venice made 20 years later. Clearly, the pictures from Solothurn are the precedent (on the site here). I don't know if you can learn something from them or if they read as relevant today, but they sure rocked my world then. Epiphany? Oh yes, for sure. The closest I can come to Solothurn in the present day is the The Wall, Chelsea, MA made in 2014. If I hadn't made the Solothurn pictures 31 years earlier who knows if I would have arrived at the same place.
Note the same crumbling wall in all three of the photographs above.
Part of the act or life of being a career artist has to be this: the ability to sense that you've arrived at something large enough to pay attention to, to remember, to use in your cache of abilities, to apply when you find yourself in front of it again. In my case, this way of working is clearly a subset of a larger structure, the series work itself. You must have that too, a way of seeing or a sensitivity to a certain form or shape or content that you've worked with before and are familiar with. Repetitious? No, I don't think so. Just working within a construct that has worked before and that is used again when relevant.
In looking at these again, now made 32 years ago (yikes!), I find huge differences in the way I was seeing back then compared to now. The pictures looked less "together", less formalized, less structured and tight. There is a looseness to the Solothurn pictures that I like very much. Blurry here? Whatever. The edge not perfect? So what.
Don't like that branch coming down and intruding into the frame? Deal with it. A little assertive and sure. I am not implying I am less now, just different.
Take that camera with its fixed 38 mm Zeiss Biogon lens out of level and all hell breaks loose.
See why I was so excited? These three frames above sliding along that same wall with the shutters, the door, the propane tank, and the wonderful bonus of the hanging garment in plastic rendered in multiple frames was simply too much.
And then we start a new chapter or section:
Solothurn, CH 1983.
Want to see real prints of these? Contact 555 Gallery and ask if they can be made available for viewing. But be careful: there is only one set of the original 1983 prints and I do not break up series work for individual sales. But know this: you can look all you want for free.