An Imagined Past

Erotica // Thursday, 19 May 2011
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In his book Camera Lucida, the philosopher Roland Barthes meditates upon the temporality of the photograph. For Barthes, the photograph is an emanation of something that was once there, an effect of a presence that existed in time; the photograph opens this moment of existence to us in a way that explodes the ideology of the now.

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Questions of temporality pervade my work. I am fascinated by anachronism, and how it disrupts and subverts the fiction of my images. My photographs are not so much a recreation of an imagined past, as they are the emanation of a desire that does not find itself at home in the present. They are therefore a refusal of the now.

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Film, with all its beautiful physics and chemistries, means more than simple nostalgia. It is part of my strategy of refusal, part of my attempt to rediscover both time and desire. In the midst of the digital world, I believe in minor photography; I want to produce quiet pictures. This means following a method of serendipity. What are the ingredients that make an image resonate? A special gesture or expression from a model; a cloudy day that suddenly brightens; or an idea that springs from nowhere. These fleeting and ephemeral things – uncontained by the word “accident” – are unbearably precious.

 

I think my erotic photography functions as a respite from the misery of living in fundamentalist, suburban America. More generously, I think it possible to discern some element of catharsis and reconstitution of desire in my photographs, however limited. Looking at my own work now, I am struck by the gaze of the different models I have worked with. There are a certain few moments when it appears to me that my collaborators are cognizant of something extraordinary just outside the frame of the picture, as though they could see some other horizon, close at hand.

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