In recent years I’ve been reading and re-reading quite a bit of James Baldwin and I am particularly struck by the way he links the individual to history. He writes: “history is literally present in all that we do” and “if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” This idea that we are all one small part of something much larger than ourselves, but yet our presence can have such a large impact is intriguing. Yet Baldwin goes even a step further to imply that we are history. History isn’t merely made up of grand actions, but also includes the collection of our everyday activities and encounters.
For the past decade, I’ve used the camera to explore notions of space/place and in particular, spatial environments and encounters. My projects have ranged from exploring city borders and public parks to unfamiliar nocturnal landscapes and most recently, entrances to a small lake in rural New Hampshire. While my work often contains an autobiographical hint, the images are usually far from personal. Intellectually inspired by Baldwin, I looked inward turning the camera more onto my own life and the space that I occupy.
For the course of eight months, I photographed subjects that I would normally fall off my camera radar: adventures with friends, people I care deeply about, the particular way the light hits a wall, cityscapes that I walk past daily, and so on. Many of these images were shot away from home (two international trips actually bookend the series) and others were shot in the apartment where I have lived in for ten years as well as other familiar places.
During the course of this time, I didn’t process any of the film. I didn’t want to look back and see what I could have done better or what patterns were emerging. I merely wanted to look and shoot. In mid-October, I had all twenty rolls of film processed and I was surprised to see what was captured in these frames. Images I thought I had taken were missing. Images I barely remember were present. The act of examining and photographing my own space – something I hadn’t done since college – reinvigorated my practice in new ways.