It's 2 a.m. and I can't sleep. I've learned that tossing and turning in bed while recovering from open-heart surgery isn't always productive.
So, I am turning to the blog which has been silent for a month or so. I have always tried to write about photography and my work from a perspective that could relate to your work or concerns and that remains of key importance to me. Let's see if you relate to this one.
My recovery is going well. Last week I hit a bump in that my heart was found to be beating erratically so I was admitted into the hospital again for one night to have a "Cardio Version" where my heart was hit with electricity to kick it back into a normal heartbeat. It worked and I am now back on track. I have started to drive and so, am increasingly independent from my daughter, Maru, who has been looking after me. I don't really have words to express how grateful I am for her care through this ordeal.
I drove into town to my studio yesterday and looked at it through the eyes of someone that has not practiced photography for six weeks or so. It was an odd sensation, probably close to someone's reaction visiting for the first time. Flat file cases of work, portfolios of printed photographs, racks of framed pieces, a career's worth of negatives from analog days, computers and RAIDS, hard drives, and a 44-inch printer, framing supplies, a scanner, copy stand, and rolling carts of inkjet paper on rolls and in sheets. More distance and perspective than I have probably ever had from my own work. But also impressive that there is so much of it. Since it all began I have always worked through whatever else life threw at me, there has been the work, the making of photographs. Not that this is all a good thing for so much work presents a problem for the future: storing it, maintaining it, assuring its remaining viability and access. I find myself not so much inside the projects as in earlier times but outside looking in at work made in various phases or parts of my career, core mainstream work, and other bodies and series made as offshoots, or sidelines to the central themes of my artistic career.
Valuable, that. Perhaps to be outside the work more than at any other time.
I don't know that I mean this makes for a real solution, just lending a different way to look at a career that I have never done or had before. I wonder if you've had that, the ability to look at what you do or have done with this sort of distance.
Of course, this leads to the questioning of what I would have done differently. Perhaps fool that I am but I don't think anything. I've known for a long time, for instance, that there is work that isn't at the same level as other work of mine. So be it. I can accept that but still find value in that less than "A" work that might be supportive of something or that might speak to me wrestling with an issue or a concern through visualizing a concept or an idea.
But from this longer lens view, I believe that the work can stand. I am not likely at this late stage in my life to burn or shitcan it to the dumpster outside my studio.
Will end this now with hoping to get back to sleep soon. Will the blog continue, thrive as in earlier years when I had so much to share? I don't honestly know. But I am grateful always for you coming along. It is a pleasure to be able to share my thoughts with you.
(photographs from 2013 Artist in Residency, Hofsos, Iceland ©Neal Rantoul)