charlotte whalen – rosa

whalen_04

 

Rosa   by   Charlotte Whalen

 

Related links

After La Violencia

61 Responses to “charlotte whalen – rosa”


  • Utterly mystical. What a change from yesterday’s selected photo. Wow, David, you really keep us guessing!

    Patricia

  • This spooked me. Rather it spooks me.

    I’ve nothing more to say at this point. I need to let this one linger a while.

  • Cousin IT? :)))

    (from The Adams family)

    My hair was never this long but it went to the bottom of my back in High School and that’s what my Mom called me. :))

    Not sure what else to say at this point.

  • This one really doesn’t do anything for me. Interesting idea, but no emotional response here.

  • Well, Charlotte likely has other pics that I may prefer but I have to say that this one leaves me a bit unsure personally… The hair is out of this world and I sort of see your point Pat about being mystical but hummmmm…. still not sure really…. picture does not touch me or speak to me…

    Eric

  • Hamlet: …I did love you once.
    Ophelia: Indeed, my, lord, you made me believe so.
    Hamlet: You should not have believed me…I loved you not.
    Ophelia: I was the more deceived.

    The hair, the bit of river and a feeling of innocence, makes me instantly think of Ophelia.

  • Well, WOW, i’ve just returned from looking at and Reading After La violencia as well as looking at Charlotte’s website: http://www.charlottewhalen.net/

    Let me first say, that I think ALL the work (both the website project After La Violencia and the photographs on her website) on Guatemala is magnificent. Deeply intelligent and penetrative, combining a thoughtful and rich introspective examination of the devastating effect on Guatemala of both war (civil, drug) and economic devastation. I love the photographs (again, taking a Soth-like approach to journalism, with an eye toward witness and description through a honed eye rather than classic journalistic technique). They absolutely remind me of the extraordinary novel 2666 by my hero Roberto Bolano. Also, the series: Guatemala: archives, reminds of the Horacio Castellanos Moya’s brilliant, recently translated novel SENSELESSNESS. I read the novel in December and Charlotte, can I recommend the book and all of Moya’s work to you?…ditto Bolano’s 2666.

    The project After La Violencia is really quite extraordinary, combing photography, interview, text and analysis is takes the idea of reporting, documentation, conceptual thinking (art) and art-service as a means to support, grass roots style, causes that need to be helped. The photography is great (i liked the sub-prime project alot too), but what i love best about La Violencia is it’s commitment to intelligent, empassioned political support through a generous and insightful eye that speaks. It’s all great and I really really love the photographer in the project, but it’s act of witnessing and political involvement is very very refreshing.

    As for the photograph, Rosa. I too love it. It reminds me of one of my favorite ‘photography’ books: Wisconsin Death Trip. Wisconsin Death Trip is really not a ‘photography’ book, but an extraordinary book about history, reportage, imagery. When i first bought it (when it had been re-released a few years ago, i was stunned)….a weird and seminal book (originally published in ’73) about history and time and well, dying…and one small town….and the photographs found…..

    “Rosa” reminds me of my favorite images from that book, of a horse…

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2358/1619882318_b6d726303e.jpg?v=0

    the book is filled with death, all the death that strangely befell a small 19th century town in Wisconsin….and it is all there: the length of her hair, the facelessness…the verdant valley, the pool (drowning) beneath her feet…and she is, like in Ringu, a ghost…someone that has left us or is still in mourning….

    all this, for me, conveyed in the trellises of her hair, the small pond of water at her feet, her refusal to turn around…the trees, like Antietam, enclosing all that have gone before her….

    a haunting photograph…..

    and it is so great to see Burn stretch not just for evocative and literate journalism, but for literate and evocative photography all the way around :))

    cheers
    bob

  • just left a comment :))))))))….

    love ‘Rosa’ (you’ll see why when David unlocks my comment, ’cause i posted to links’)…and love Charlotte’s entire body of work….especially all the projects related to Guatemala :)))…

    running
    bob

  • she stands like a tree…
    I get a feeling of death..
    tranquility…
    looks like a platinum print,
    which I adore…
    dreamy..
    and
    feminine…
    and
    mystical….

  • If the photo needs context to be understood, perhaps it would have been better presented as part of an essay.

  • Jim:

    for me, this photo absolutely does not need context….it stands fully on it’s own :)))….but, as a photographer, and a viewer, I react strongly to the image, for it’s metaphoric power but also for what it conveys to me, akin to an important book about history/death that is a huge part of my internal life…ow what i wrote in my ‘now awaiting moderation’ first comment

    …more once David unleashes my comment :))

    running for the night
    b

  • Jim, I’m having fun gambling with myself on which pictures you’ll like and which ones you won’t. Let’s just say I’m cleaning up…. :)

  • Really like this one.

    Subtle tones, hardly a true black around except in her hair and under trees.

    Love the lack of separation. She blends right in to her surroundings, nice photo to get lost in.

  • This image needs no externally-dictated context for me either. I find myself entering it on tiptoe fearful of breaking the spell it has cast. Do you know who comes to mind? Harry Callahan’s Eleanor series.

    Isn’t it interesting how differently each of us “sees”? And what speaks to some and not to others? That’s what I love about art in general and photography in particular: its idiosyncratic nature.

    Patricia

  • Patricia – I, too, am reminded of Callahan’s images of his wife. Not to limit “Rosa” with a one-to-one comparison, but I think Rosa’s relation to her environment is similar to Eleanor’s as she is neck deep in the water, her hair floating around her. These figures are submerged, literally in Eleanor’s case and metaphorically in Rosa’s. They are tranquil. They are muted. As Jared said, she blends into her surroundings. Seems an integral part of them. I now shut up before I give away the fact that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  • Ah John, you sound to me like you know very well what you are talking about. You’ve painted a word picture that certainly speaks to me…

    Patricia

  • Adding on to what Patricia said about how it’s “interesting how differently each of us sees”

    I absolutely agree. It seems to me that some of us are mainly “seeing” what is in the frame, often from a point of view of composition, lighting and story only based on THIS image while others are “seeing” based on many other influences in addition to what is shown in the frame.

    To some degree we all bring everything in our lives to the moment when we look at the photo but it seems that some use their imagination more than others when they see. Perhaps to someone this photo illustrates their favorite poem, maybe it reminds them of another photo they like, maybe it looks like a scene out of a dream they had, either good or bad or reminds them of an ex wife, either good or bad :))…adding other layers onto the photo and influencing their opinion about it. No way of seeing being better than any other of course.

    I’ve never studied painting or sculpture but perhaps seeing is taught differently in different art forms?

    Anyone agree or disagree with this observation?

  • I wrote that before reading Bob’s now unlocked comment BTW. :))

  • i felt the death too..
    b4 reading your comment here..
    strange…
    and
    interesting…
    xx

  • CATHY
    i think art always comes from within..
    its up to the viewer for interpretation..
    whatever medium an artist chooses..
    is self expression..
    yes, the study of light, balance, form, composition, depth, perspective etc.. is the same in all arts..
    its a way of seeing..
    and of course, conceptual art is its own..
    but I think technology in the arts, has completely changed this world..
    still great, but different..
    In the gallery
    we just had a wood tuners show, and someone had calibrated his computer to his lathe, and had the program cut in his wood bowl…
    amazing…
    technology
    and
    art…
    that to me,
    is what is different within the ‘arts’ and what is being taught..

  • Thank you.

  • Hello everyone, been reading for a while and just decided to start commenting.

    For me, I was not formally trained in art and thus I have a healthy respect for every artist, because I assume they must know better than I do. So when I see work that I don’t immediately understand, I try to come at it with my heart open and my mind turned off. That way hopefully the artist’s message gets through without any of my preconceptions getting in the way.

    This one is effective for me for the emotional content. Whatever choices we each may have made for tone, composition, etc, the subject is central here and it awakens in me curiosity, nostalgia, and a faint sense of pity for wrongs suffered.

  • “Art” is a kind of visceral thing to me. It either grabs me or it doesn’t, and if it does I spend more time looking at it and trying to understand it. If it draws me in, I buy it. Every photo isn’t art. Self expression certainly, but not art. I say that only in response to the thread, not as a judgement about Charlotte Whalen’s photography.

    To me, this photo needs context. Josh, above, says it awakens in him “a faint sense of pity for wrongs suffered.” But the photo itself doesn’t contain cues to draw that conclusion. Without the backstory, the context, I suspect he would have had a different response.

  • I like the visual rythm of this. Can nicely open a series of images.

  • Interesting image, but the background is too randomly chosen imo. A different framing (pheraps excluding the sky and filling the background with the tall grass and trees) would enhance the power of this shot.

    PS: no way to access afterlaviolencia.org, will try later with a different browser…

  • ABELE…ALL

    the sky in the upper left hand corner has been bothering me all along…the hair blending with the tall grass and trees is of course the visual connection for this photograph, but i keep wishing Charlotte had taken a half step to the left and pointed the camera about one inch down..tiny tiny movement here would have given us the same picture, but well, just for lack of a better term, a better picture..a classic picture…yes, this could have been classic..it is now simply good…..it is always the very very small movements that turn good into great…yes yes , the more i look at it , the upper left sky does not work…pulls the eye too hard left ,away from the hair, for no visual reason….the power of the hair and the isolation, and the background, are the only elements necessary….

    interestingly, if this photograph had been taken with a Holga or had the feeling of “unselfconscious photographer”, then maybe the sky would be a part of an overall “i did not try too hard”…..like Lassal’s landscape last week..however, this photograph looks like the photographer was really “trying”…some attempt at formalism…so it is kind of caught between casual and formal and neither is really served in my view…..

    now, having said this, i do like the picture…i chose the picture…but, ultimately for me it is hmmmm “almost”

    HOWEVER, the context and the issues for this photograph are meaningful and important…i do not know Charlotte, but i will try to contact her to see how i can help..she is a worthy crusader and to be commended for taking special interest……this war torn area has left a black hole in the hearts of many…this indigenous region is home for the last holdouts of Spanish incursion into the Americas…a proud culture whose blood runs red with passion… as one man told me in this very town of Nebaj , “i have hated the last 500 years”….

    cheers, david

  • I actually don’t know any of the backstory or context yet; I haven’t checked out the link or looked at Charlotte’s other photography. I suppose the name of the link itself provides some context. But even without a backstory, any portrait taken that shows the subject clearly alone and hiding their face suggests a level of shame.

    Of course you or I might have made different technical choices, and probably some of them could have heightened the emotional impact. What I’m trying to say is that some impact is still there for me. If I found this while flipping through a book or portfolio, it would probably make me stop.

  • David,

    This note of yours about this photo is of great help. I always try to read what everybody is saying about a particular photo. Photography is subjective, so opinions differ. But since you are the Curator of Burn and you choose the photos, it makes a real difference to many of us who are trying to learn here.

    So I would request you to consider adding a Curator’s Note (in brief, may be) as to what you liked in the particular photo so that we, who are trying to learn, can understand a little more about good photography and give an insight.

    But since this note of your may influence the comments that will follow, the note can be put at the time of upload of the next day’s photograph. Needless to say, this brief note will be of great help.

  • I think her subjects are in a way dictated by the limitations in her use of a 4×5 camera on a tripod and the fact that she is an art photographer trying to tell a story that really needs gritty documentary work. If she can raise money selling these prints to help these people, though, it’s certainly a worthy cause.

  • Really nice.

    Its got a really striking blend of Rapunzel/forest nymph imagery – you got that lost wandering spirit feeling down to tee.

    I also think B+W was the best choice for this composition.

    Really striking.

    Max

  • Jim:

    I respect your point of view completely but i totally disagree. her use of a med format camera is not a limitation but a different orientation/language by which she is telling the story of the lives of the people in Guatemala. I would never argue why viewers who do not feel the power of this photograph should. Each person brings to viewing photographs an entire camerabag of history and language and background and each image and each body of work as a specific set of tools by which is was carved and each person has their own personal visual/intellectual/emotional and experiential ability to react, reflect and digest an image. Her work is documentation, but she is using the vocabulary of her training and her interest to speak about the lives she’s photographed and spent time with. In fact, I find this photograph compelling and filled with all kinds of visual metaphors. As soon as i saw the image (before i looked at both After La Violencia and her website), i immediately thought: death. she is mourning something, something do do with the landscape or someone who has left: land, family, spouse, child, etc. I immediately thought of the Civil war pics and other photographers who shoot landscape troubled by war (thinking of Mann’s work Deep South) to reflect loss. I also thought of the book i mentioned (wisconsin death trip), as soon as i saw this image. It is true i have a stupidly large amount of imagery in my head (before i became a photographer, and still now as a photographer, i ate as many photobooks from the full range of photography, as i could) and books sit there too (the writers nourishment), and that when i see a pic, i always get flooded with emotional feelings (when the pic works) and other associations. the ‘context’ of this photograph is their in is iconography, at least for me. knowing the work in the greater body of work, simply enhances the power of the image and certaintly contextualizes this picture, but even without that, i thought: damn, that’s a death-haunged, sad photograph. Visual accuity for a photogarpher is critical, though they dont need to be an articulate viewer to make powerful work. I never set out to ‘think’ about a picture, it happens naturally, like a flood: i guess that’s the person i am.

    Nor is it necessary or possible that all people react or feel the same, or have the same knowledge or background. I always think that is is the viewers responsiblity, not the artists, to do the work. the artist’s work is in the making, the observation, the telling. lots of great great journalism as gone into documenting the tragedy of S.america: think of the powerful and important work by John Hoagland before he was killed in Central America, or the monumental work by Susan Meisalas (Nicaragua) both her photography and her documentary film about her coverage and the lives of people. both of those photographers (and a host of others) have documented fiercely the wars and the carnage in c.america…and the work is continued to this day, with gang warfare and drug and death squads. but Charlotte’s work, no less powerful, is of a different nature…

    maybe it is because, generally speaking, most of the photographer here seem to be drawn to journalistic work, which requires context, information that is immediately digestable, that this work doesn’t resonate or doesnt detail so digestably. and for photographers who don’t ‘feel’ the photograph, i respect that. there is nothing to be bothered by that. However, the measure, at least for me, as both a photographer and a viewer, is this: has the photographer or the image brought to bare using the tools of their trade the story contained in the moment photographed, beit journalistic or meditative.

    I dont see this at all as ‘art’ photography…i see it as story telling and portraiture: of the lives that have lost so much. the way i dont think the same while im reading joan didion or michael herr’s dispatches as i do the work literary treatments…

    but the limitations are not hers……nor her subjects….but our own as viewers….

    cheers
    bob

  • SUBHRAJIT…

    well, at the beginning of my doing posts here on BURN i thought i should stay out of it completely…choose the picture and then let the photographer/author of the picture take questions from or respond to the readers…this actually has worked quite well several times..other times the photographer chooses to stay out of it too..that is the photographer’s prerogative….i am afraid that if i jump in at the beginning this could skew the comments that follow…after all, i have chosen the picture in the first place..my opinion of the worthiness of the picture is self evident.. there could be many reasons for that choice..either i really love the photograph, or i just know that it will spark discussion, or both…in any case, i will give my opinion of the photograph or essays as it seems appropriate….the other thing is this…time…sometimes when i post , i just do not have the time to critique as i post..it takes me a long time to choose the photograph in the first place…there are dozens of submissions every day….daily updating of BURN takes lots of time in editing, viewing etc….if i do it this way, i can come back to the picture when i am having my morning coffee and make comments accordingly..anyway Subrajit, i will try as best i can to be as helpful to you as possible..and the essays being built now for “work in progress” should be very helpful for you as well..keep your eye on that section….

    cheers, david

  • i think the project which this photograph is a part of is fantastic.. covering education, simply artistry and concieved with genuine intent.. good work.
    i’m seeing more and more artsist asking for donations to continue work, through websites and teh like, and this interests me.. is it now the case that with so few publications paying for stories such as this that we are reduced to touting our work as worthy of charity? this is not something i have a problem with to be honest – any way in which an artists seeks funding if just fine by me, however does this bring about a new aspect to working, which does not require commission nor solid conclusion but rather allows the work to evolve naturally and as an ongoing concern?

    donations to the cause which the work highlights also seem to be included through the artists site – which i think is an excellent and compassionate side benefit of the work.

    regardless of the photo above, a great project well worth support and time..

  • The sky top left doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I like it that way. Otherwise the image might lack depth. I like that the sky adds distance. It pulls the picture off kilter slightly and I like that tension. It’s there for a reason, I’m sure. Deliberately or subconsciously.

  • For me, it is strong enough to lure me to look at more of your work..I’m curious..and as for this image, I like that it reminds me of the tradition of photographing women with their very long hair down..sort of like this one http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3131/2719965307_94b36809ee.jpg..

  • …Dunno…
    I still feel a missing
    Unicorn somewhere around..
    too Ridley Scottish..
    ..Dunno..

  • … and with that long
    witchy hair I would prefer her
    full nude but then again
    It’s just me, waking up..
    Morning y’all from
    the bloody LA..
    ;-))

  • missing unicorn…
    love it!!!
    yes..
    its behind the tree..
    **

  • Wendy…
    It’s so weird..
    First thing after waking up:
    Check on BURN then go brush the
    teeth.. etc..
    It used to be a day that coffee
    was a priority..
    Now it’s BURN..
    is it just me?
    addictive personality???
    Or is it a BURNpidemic???

  • Me too Panos, Burn, tea, toast, toilet ….. is that too much information?

  • I hear you ..Mike
    First Burn
    then the toast..
    Then the rest….room!!!
    Laughing

  • DAVID, BOB, others who have mentioned Guatemala…

    I have looked on the link Charlotte posted here as well as her personal website and see nothing but color photography. This image does not show up on either site…so does anyone have any reason to believe that this image has anything to do with Guatemala? Neither the attire nor physical appearance say “Guatemala” to me. I am also a lover of Guatemala and respect her decision to tackle the issues there but unless she has told us that this image goes with the other Guatemala images I have no reason to think they go together.

    When David says “the context and the issues for this photograph are meaningful and important…” it seems like a leap of faith to me. It might be helpful to get a little background info from Charlotte.

    Continuing the “seeing” discussion…should a photographer’s body of work influence our opinion about an individual image? I tend to want a single image image to stand alone and speak for itself without my needing to add anything.

  • Interesting picture to spark discussion.
    First impression. Seventies prog rock album art. odd DOF, green? filtered?
    Second impression. I dont really ‘feel’ anything here. I am looking at an image that may or may not have implied narrative. If it does it is not a narrative that I can reach out to.
    It seems to ask me some questions, but then again, not any questions I really feel the need to seek out answers for.
    I have nothing against this picture, unfortunately I have nothing much for it either, or it me, it seems.
    It does however seem to resonate with quite a few people, many of whom seem to have managed to strike up quite a lively dialogue with it and with each other. Thats as it should be
    john

  • Intriguing photograph Charlotte, congratulations. As Unevolved N says above; it does have a look of film that has been filtered, perhaps even infrared film? Good range of tones – although the photographs is predominately light in tonality, the blacks are there where they should be.

    Best wishes,

    Mike.

  • What about just cropping the sky out in Photoshop/ darkroom? Or is that a no-no?

  • Interesting perspective on the sky, David. I’ve tried looking at this photo with the sky cropped out and find it speaks quite a different narrative, to me anyway.

    Without the sky I see a woman standing alone in a field lost in thought. It is an internal dialogue she is having, one that needs no external stimulation. We are given no clues as towhat she is thinking.

    With the sky and hills in the distance, however, I see her looking towards the future, an unknown future but something that is drawing her forward. Her body is actually turned in that direction, as if that is where her gaze is resting.

    Personally I prefer the photo as Charlotte took it. Perhaps it is not as ideal photographically speaking but as an image that tells a story, that is the story that speaks to me.

    Patricia

  • Please forgive me! That last comment was NOT posted by DAH. My mistake.

    Patricia

  • I really think it needs that sliver of sky… it shows the downhill roll of the hills, yet the woman stands straight up, another similarity with the trees, further sinking her into the background.

  • Again,
    who took the Unicorn away????

  • I second Cathy’s query about the connection with the rest of the images on Charlotte’s website.
    I couldn’t find any apart from that kind of airiness that this image shares with some others at her portfolios.

    Apart from that, the long hair, long dress, the back turned to us and the looking towards the bushes, they all consent towards a sense of mystery and disquiet.

  • Jareeeeed…
    What up mate..
    We have a pirates convention
    Next week in Venice beach..
    You better show up..
    Now ,regarding the sky on the upper corner…!!!
    it’s like a hole on a box full
    of milk.. It spills the milk out..
    Drags the attention away..
    It messes it up..
    and again..
    I won’t sleep until I find that
    Lost Unicorn!!!
    Laughing!!!!

  • Quick “milk” suggestion..
    How about turn the sky “black”..
    Not cropping though..
    Just chocolate milk…
    and speaking of chocolate…
    Viva Obama!!!;-))))

  • I’ll be there. :)
    If you make it back from the great Northwest that is…

    Don’t cry over spilled milk Panos, the picture looks pretty static to me without it. I like the fact that my eye bounces from the top, to the girl, to the puddle on the left. Way more interesting that way.

    Unicorns are hard to find, I’ve only ever found one.

  • Jared ,
    I will call if I ever make it
    back from the warm and sunshiny
    Seattle..
    We will meet up in Venice ..
    Bring an extra credit card just in
    case mine misbehaving again!!!
    peace
    (..ahh tough times even for pirates
    these days.. Laughing…)

  • CATHY…

    if you click on Charlotte’s link, you can see that she is only interested in Guatamala, and the picture caption says “Nebaj” which is, as i am sure you know, quite a famous indigenous town in Guatamala….i also wrote the picture was taken in Nebaj in my original comment…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    I have heard some talk about captions but have yet to figure out how to see them.
    If the caption says Nebaj that answers my question.

  • hi bob,

    thanks so much for your generous and insightful comments. I’ve read most of Bolano but not 2666 yet – though I have a close friend who’s a Bolano scholar and has narrated/read most of it to me. It’s one of the next things on my list. I’m also going to have to find a copy of Wisconsin Death Trip, which I didn’t know but looks extraordinary and excellent – and I love the connection you made to the photo of the horse. I also promise to go find some Moya, who I don’t know. So – thank you for all of that. You’re on to where I’m going, even though I’m not there yet.

    Very best-

    Charlotte

  • hi everyone,

    unfortunately I only saw today that my photo had been posted, so I missed out on the dialog! – but I’m glad the photo generated discussion. I hope some of you who wanted clarification will find this post.

    The photo is indeed part of the after la violencia project. There are a whole host of issues I could discuss that would illuminate how/why it does/doesn’t fit with what is displayed on the project site. Part of it has to do with the question David Bowen raised above regarding fundraising on the web, “however does this bring about a new aspect to working, which does not require commission nor solid conclusion but rather allows the work to evolve naturally and as an ongoing concern?”

    I can say it definitely does change things – not necessarily toward more natural evolution. Though what is natural these days? For me it means putting some of the work out in the very early stages, before the project has solidified. This means that the edit on the site is provisional and not representative (also due for an overhaul that I’m working on). Right now I’ve chosen not to put any black and white work up because I began the project in color and have not figured out how to deal with beginning to work in black and white.

    I haven’t worked in black and white for a long time. I’ve been getting pulled back to it in part for intrinsic reasons of missing the physical process and visual characteristics. But also because of the challenge of working for long periods of time in the field without being able to see what I’m doing. There simply isn’t anywhere in Guatemala to develop color 4×5 film (if anyone can correct me please do!). And photographing for weeks/months at a time in a process as taxing and costly as color 4×5 without being able to evaluate progress is, for me at least, extremely difficult. I also find it preferable to be able to show people I work with the work as it progresses. Right now I’m putting some serious thought into how to deal with this – give up color, and the work I’ve done so far in color? Come to terms with a way to combine both? I haven’t got any answers yet, and for now I’m keeping the black and white in abeyance.

    The other complicating issue is that what’s presented as one project on the site will probably ultimately be several discrete series. The photograph here will be part of a series on violence against women. How integrated or discrete the thematic threads I’m working with will be is continuing to evolve.

    When complete none of this work will be presented without context. Not just my context, in writing and editing, but the context of interviews I’m doing. But while history and text are integral to what I’m trying to do, I also hope that in the final edit I’ll be selecting photos that “stand on their own,” so I’m glad this one does for some people. I am after all a photographer, for better or worse! That said, it’s clear from comments – as if we didn’t all know already – that there are many ways for a photograph to stand, and that its apparent posture owes much to the mind that perceives it.

    As Bob rightly notes, I’m not really a photojournalist. Part of me is, but other parts aren’t. So it’s really interesting for me to be included in this forum.

    On a final note, I agree about the sky being unfortunate. I saw how different and how much stronger the photo was without when I scanned it. I may ultimately crop, which might work or not. I agree that this is an -almost- great photo. But I will defend myself somewhat from David’s comments on this in the sense that, for me at least, a holga photo would be much more mannered overall. Particularly when working with people I feel very uncomfortable composing photographs in anything approaching a formal manner. My approach is something closer to expository, though that can be a complex term too. I could go into a lot more detail about this, and about working with a view camera, and all this in the context of conflict and post-conflict photography, but don’t want to get too wrapped up in an already lengthy post. Ultimately I think the photograph becomes formalist in appearance because it’s so uncomposed. When I took the photo I could feel that it both had and lacked whatever would make it great. Part of the reason I didn’t try to crop the sky is that as Paul Treacy says, it’s there for a reason. I let it happen. And perhaps it’s there to provide discomfort.

    Thanks so much to everyone for the comments – and thank you David for choosing to post the photo.

    Best to all-
    C

    ps – if anyone wants info on the pros and cons of working with fiscal sponsorship for long-term projects along the lines of David Bowen’s post I’d be happy to share.

  • Charlotte! :)))

    So great to read your comments and what a pleasure to hear you speak on your pic, your series and the process/ideas that are fomenting and contextualizing this work. As i tried to write above (and else where on this blog as well as under my own essay) it is critical that viewers take the time and opportunity to think about work and try to dig (archeology of a sort) the context and story that’s contained within the photo(s) or story(ies). Your photo hit me on an immediate and visceral level and it seemed clear to me that it was one recalling the dead, or suffering or abuse or difficulty. Definitely definitely read Wisconsin Death Trip. It’s a wild and brilliant and iconoclastic book (i think the writer was some obscure philosophy or history prof from Ohio) about photography, history, and the strange synchronicity of tragedy. The pictures are haunting (i see often think of the horse and pictures of the children who’d died) but the story of the town is just heartbreaking. That’s also wonderful about Bolano and i totally encourage you (in the most passionate way) to read 2666, particularly since you’re moving toward the issue of abused women….the pivotal core of the book as well as history, and i think it will be great food to chew upon to see how Bolano deals with this issue and with history (read: our) collective and individual responsibility. Mayo required reading for all things c.american.

    I hope and trust that viewers/commentators will see this pic anew in light of your comments and return back to the project. You have touched upon several important issues that I think not enough photographers wrestle with, particularly photographers who are ‘documenting’ a place, a time, a people…critical critical to stem deep the ideas of story and our responsibilities in that.

    i will follow the development and your work and wish you all the best of success and especially for the people of Guatemala.

    cheers
    bob

  • David, thanks so much for your interest and for having posted the photo. I’m sorry I missed out on the dialog. I’ve posted a longer comment below, including about the sky. But in addition would love to hear more about when you were in Nebaj. The highway from Quiche was completely paved a few years ago, and now the town is filled with cars and motorcycles. It’s changing very fast.

    take care

    C

  • CHARLOTTE…

    yes, i am so sorry you missed out on the dialogue as well…but, all selected singles and essays are always “on”, so you may still respond to whatever you want…

    it has been many years since i was in Nebaj…once for quite a long time in the late seventies i think for a piece on the Maya and then again in the early nineties documenting refugees etc etc..i remember driving into Nebaj late one night with no place to stay with my whole family…we asked around and finally ended up on the floor of someone’s home…it was an amazing experience along with so many in the highlands of Guatamala…it is hard for me to imagine Nebaj as a “busy town” with cars and motorcycles….i do hope we meet someday and can share our experiences….please keep up all of your fine work…

    cheers, david

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