“His preparedness to make connections allowed him to see the essential in details.”
This quote about Walter Benjamin is a focal point for my artmaking, which I approach as a detective process, revolving around considerations of place, ephemerality, transience and liminality. My work represents an investigation, an exploration, an attempt to depict or suggest through photography what’s not there, those things that “flash up at the instant they can be recognized” (Benjamin), as well as the interstices in which they are embedded.
I approach my work “obliquely and tangentially,” (to quote W.G. Sebald), rather than directly and linearly. While I have a strong belief in photography’s ability to suggest or infer, I have rather less faith in its ability to show or prove. I see my work as a set of essays after Montaigne, narratives about the attempt at coming to an (always provisional) understanding. My artwork arises out of my dialogues with thinkers (such as Benjamin, Freud and Sebald) whose contributions exist at the intersection of the visual and the literary.
Central to my work is the concept of liminality, the “betwixt and between,” the interstice between defined states of being or understanding. I attempt to suggest a liminal area between visions (or versions) of a particular place and time, a shift between understandings both spatial and temporal. Yet my work speaks to an interpretive liminality as well, a zone from which meaning arises, the zone of absence that, paradoxically, makes depth and meaning possible. The gap in which possibility appears.
While the photograph is culturally and historically considered the most concrete of representational forms, I believe it is the most inherently ambiguous as well. My claim is that in light of its supposed position as documentary form par excellence, photography cannot help but speak simultaneously the languages of presence and absence. Its visual resources, its vocabulary of clarities and unclarities, of inclusion and exclusion, gives it a voice both tragic and compelling.