“If I remember correctly”
(a series of still lifes from LGBT history….)
In the winter of 2020 when I volunteered to help friend Larry Bittner donate Judge Vaughn Walker’s gavel to the GLBT historical society, little did I realize then that a petite series of still lifes of historically charged objects was about to be born. Once I started shooting the gavel, it made perfect sense to turn my attention to other LGBT related memorabilia that I had collected, to try to give voice to the stories they contained. The series of 14 images put me much further down the rabbit hole of artmaking than I originally intended to go, but once in, I knew it had to be done. (Especially since the gavel and the cassette recording of Harvey Milk’s political will tape were about to be shipped out to the GLBT Historical society once the photo documentation part was completed).
I envisioned the series to have a film noir quality, but each object had its own challenges, and the journey was full of surprises. I am almost exclusively a portrait and event photographer and I have to admit that I was way out of my comfort zone doing this series even though years ago I had been cross trained in table-top photography at photo assistant day jobs I had at commercial photography studios. (The Emporium photo studio and then later Studio XIII later known as Flat Top Studio who had the Macy’s table top catalog contract).
Doing this series now so many years later engendered deep respect for tabletop shooters, but it’s definitely not my calling, in fact, I can’t wait to get back to photograph human beings…. but my hope is the series begs the question, is there really any difference in terms of life energy…?
The whole experience reminds me of a story pertaining to how the band Dead Can Dance chose their band name, and their explanation was as Divine as their music is… in the interview Brendan Perry talked about how indigenous communities felt as though they were reanimating the flesh of the animals they made instruments out of. Skin for a drum, bones for a rattle... that they felt that the dead animal’s Spirit is dancing and living on through the music.
I feel that we often overlook the charge that the objects we gather around us can hold, and this was a concerted exploration to honor those energies and the stories they carry forth. Long live the memories of the people, places, and things that still populate our conscious and unconscious states of awareness and the Universe of signs and symbols that are often the gateways of access.