Embedded is a body of work comprised of several series of photographs. Each series is part of a broader investigation into what conditions foster human acts of violence. The specific theme of each series inspired a slightly different photographic approach.
The “Last Supper” series presents photographs of re-created requested last meals of executed prisoners. The process of composing the pictures became a profound meditation on violence and how the state metes out justice and retribution. The meal is life given to the body, the execution is life taken from the body. The meals register the juxtaposition between/ confusion over what is given and what is taken away.
Modernist thought opened doors to the psyche and produced a medical (clinical) approach to the behavior of human beings. Why haven’t we been able to see violent behavior in the same light as other self-destructive behavior? Why has violent behavior been left in the dark, locked away in concepts of condemnation and forgiveness?
Meals are symbolic. They often celebrate important occasions, they sustain us. You can make a meal for your boss, you can make a meal for your lover, you can make a meal for a baby, you can make a meal for a condemned person. The body politic is giving sustenance to the body condemned.
It is thought that approximately 2/3 of all murders are the result of men acting out on their fundamental insecurity and vulnerability to slights. A perceived slight is categorized as a “narcissistic injury” by psychologists.
The Perceived Slight series are photographic images of a fictional scenario. A person has arrived at a party and felt they had been slighted. They loaded their plate with comfort food and ruminated over how they will punish the giver of the perceived slight.
The broken plate, cup, bowl or glass in each photograph is a metaphor for the broken festive spirit and joyous conviviality in the air and for the trigger of possible ensuing violence due to what was the perceived slight.
Not knowing that someone is harboring deep frustration or misplaced anger can cause an innocent person to trigger violent episodes.
In the 1960’s-70’s, American women became powerful leaders in the anti-war movement. The Women’s Liberation Movement was aligned with the Peace Movement. At that time, war was viewed by women in the Peace Movement as primarily a male form of conflict resolution. For women to lead the movement to stop the use of war as a means of conflict resolution was part of what the Women’s Liberation Movement was about for many women.
In the current times, women have sought liberation by removing the Combat- Protection Policy in the US military. This policy protected women from becoming assigned to active fighting as a part of a combat unit. With the removal of the Combat-Protection Policy women are allowed to participate with men as part of a combat unit and actively fight the designated enemy on the ground. Because the draft is connected to filling combat roles, it is now speculated that women will be called up for the draft along with men. When this takes place, women will most certainly be participating in war in much greater numbers. Specific roles for women in combat are debated by both men and women.
Will American women become recognized most notably for their brilliant achievements as negotiators for peace and conflict resolution alternatives or as brilliant strategists for the organized violence that is war?
The American experiment with Alcohol Prohibition (1920-1933) demonstrated that Prohibition generates unprecedented violence. The amount of violence caused by the illegalization of marijuana far exceeds any violent behavior caused by using it.
The Secret Ingredient series of photographs are based on the recipes of favorite dishes of murder victims. Murder victims’ families created a cookbook in order to raise desperately needed funds that were not available through the Victim’s Advocate Office. Deserting those suffering the effects of violence is a society’s way of extending violence. Human beings can be astonishingly resilient, resourceful and brave in the face of grave tragedy, but they require much more help then they receive.
Endangered vol.1 is a series of photographs of the recent International Climate Change March held in NYC in September of 2014. People came from all over the world to give voice to their desire for leaders to affect laws that will protect the planet from the violence humans are forcing on it. We evolved from the earth and are a part of the earth. Now we are systematically destroying the earth. Government leaders inflict violence on their people, themselves and the planet by allowing the requirements for life to be ignored.
The 1982 March for Disarmament in NYC that coincided with the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament brought the people of the world together. The march was the largest international protest march in history and created a passionate human outcry against the existence of nuclear weapons. Endangered vol.2 is a series of photographs taken of the International March for Disarmament. The people of the world have spoken. They want to be free of the ultimate form of violence that has become a threatening dark cloud over all of life.
Calculation is a body of work comprised of several series of photographs. Each series was created to image ways of viewing the world. Humans developed the abstract world of numbers. With numbers and their ability to calculate, humans are able to build and continually develop complex systems in both the abstract and physical worlds. Each series in the Calculation body of work is an observation and reflection on the interaction between human beings and the worlds they build.
The Discreet & Continuous series was inspired by a debate going on in the scientific community in the mid 1970’s. The debate was about the shift from the discreet method of observing phenomena to a continuous method of observing. The debate illuminated the concept that observational methods shape what is observed.
The “discreet” mode of observation entailed taking a cross section or slice of an entity at one moment in time and observing and identifying all of the parts. This would give one a set of facts to be used to identify that entity. The “continuous” mode of observation entailed observing and detailing how an entity changes over a specified period of time. This could produce a completely different set of facts to describe of the same entity.
The Discreet & Continuous photographic series are multiple images shot sequentially of phenomena…such macro images of pigments moving through glass constructions, traveling on a highway or walking up and down stairs. These sequentially shot photographs are then rearranged to form a visual identity that is both discreet and continuous in nature but unbound by time. Computers have ushered in a nonlinear way of organizing and understanding information. The multiples of this series are an expression/ demonstration of a photographic nonlinear way of seeing and remembering.
The “In Certainty” series of photographs were created in various nonspecific locations. They are meant to be a visual middle ground between what the photographer is projecting on the scene and what is the scene. The mode of producing the photographs could be called straight shooting, however the images are carefully composed to highlight the figure juxtaposed and enmeshed into the built world. The physical laws that govern geometry and the built world are the structures upon which we now rely and trust and can no longer separate from. “In Certainty” is not so much about the people in the photographs as about a way of observing and perceiving life that does not fundamentally change regardless of where one is or what one sees.
Produced in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Yanked Parts is a photo series that is an expression of frustration, anxiety and feelings of displacement over the invasion by and reliance on electronics in everyday life. The modern style dish towels from the 30’s and 40’s, are stand-ins for the concept of a society shifting away from a traditional past towards a future where efficiency and rational perfection are valued as the highest achievements. These modern values set the stage for the electronic revolution we live in. The electromagnetic coil was used as part of an electronic system that delivered images all over the world at the time the series was produced. Rapid technological transformations challenge individuals to let go of previously accepted values and norms and discover their own synthesis with relentlessly evolving technologies.
The 20th Century Rites photographic series were created at the WTC Plaza from 1990 to the last day of the 20th century. When I lived 3 blocks from the Twin Towers, I routinely went to the Plaza to shoot while contemplating what was there. Eventually the Plaza came to resemble an ancient ritual site transposed into a backdrop of 20th century architecture. People were engaged in a type of rite: a “picture-taking dance” in which a ritualized manipulation of time and space was performed by creating photographs. The space between the Twin Towers seemed charged with a mystical energy when you looked up into it. The circular, wet fountain at the base was the female counterpart to the phallic shape of empty space between the towers.
People from many countries and cultures were coming together while creating their own visions and performing their own rites with their cameras. Although the series was meant to highlight the more endearing and positive aspects of being human while adjusting to our technologically based society, the images have become radically altered by the tragic events of Sept.11, 2001. The Twin Towers and the Plaza no longer exist. However, millions of seemingly unconnected people across the globe now have a bond…a type of mysterious communion through their photographs with a memory of a “picture taking dance” in the 20th century at the WTC Plaza.