Sociological Portraits

I am interested in narratives and narratives spun about lives set apart from my neighborhood.  All those people– perhaps placeholders?–who represent something other than what they are, somehow so conceived.

I am interested to know whether those representations of lives, sociological portraits as I like to think of them can be uncoupled from the specific histories of those people.  Is Dorothea Lange’s powerful image of the “Migrant Mother”, a Dust Bowl era photograph of Florence Owens Thompson and her two children, just that?  Or does it now stand for motherhood and steel?  We know that the image was cropped and that the narrative was manipulated to suggest temperance and a classical mien.  But we also know that the facts were otherwise: Thompson had seven children.  That fact alone would have subverted the composition strength of any photograph that Lange might have shot.

Does that fact matter to our appreciation of Lange’s photographic image?  What are your thoughts on Eddie Adams’ grisly image of the execution of a Vietcong soldier?  I know something about the narrative behind that image.

So. What are my thoughts on that image?

I paint and draw on paper, and apply a set of procedures that wrinkle and cut into the paper, my ground.  My photographs of those grounded drawings and paintings, in the form of  portraits, speak to the circumstance of their making and the circumstances associated with whatever interpretation I carried from some prior to the work to the photograph of the work, itself a work.  Does the wrinkled paper stand apart from Eddie Adam’s photograph printed in high gloss paper, rather than standard matte?

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