Lorena Molina: Artist Research

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Elinor Carucci:

Website

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Statement

This is the only statement I could find about Carucci talking about her work. This is of the series Closer. Sorry this is long.

My mother was the first person I ever photographed and I still take pictures of her obsessively. Quite literally, in more than one way, she was - she is - my natural point of origin. My connection to the world. I used to think that the struggles with her, as well as the sense of closeness, security and warmth, the whole way I related to her during childhood, would somehow naturally end with the end of childhood. Perhaps they were transformed, elevated to other levels. But in many ways, they never lost their power over me.

I started taking pictures of her when I was fifteen. I used my father's old Canon camera. Gradually, in concentric circles, the subjects of my work expanded. From my mother, to my father and brother, to the extended family, until, in recent years, the center shifted, at least partially, to my husband, Eran. I no longer see my mother only as a strong person, she is no longer my only source of security, of power, of beauty, but I do measure my own femininity, my own self, as a distance from her. When she prepared me for the world, she showed me the world through her eyes. It was, or is, a long process. When I was twenty-two she put lipstick on my lips, her lipstick. This was one of many things that were both, somehow, continuity and separation. My own femininity, yet always drawing on hers. Oddly I still felt her lipstick would somehow protect me. But this closeness was, in a way, also what enabled me to move away, to enlarge the circles of both life and work, and finally to shift much of the focus to Eran, even to myself. The camera was, in this sense, both a way to get close, and to

break free. It was a testimony to independence as well as a new way to relate. A boundary, a distance, as well as the documentation of closeness. I could see my mother, my husband, my father, at once in a detached and a related way. In the first few years I was mostly intuitive, even impulsive, in the way I shot. After a while, however, I tried to turn to what I thought of then as more professional photography. I began shooting series of black and white pictures, my mother and myself as their subjects. They were structured, posed: Mother looked too ready to be in a photograph, well prepared, presenting herself to me. It's not that we weren't candid or open. We were, and we did try to recreate real scenes, actual situations. But something was missing. I didn't like what came out. I stopped, took a break for a few months.

When I returned to photography -- I was about twenty-one years old then -- I took one step back. I stopped trying to recreate, stage, things that happened, in a controlled way. Rather, I tried to do what I did when I first started: shoot things as they were happening. I began to work in color too which is, for me, warmer, more vivid. I gave no advance warning, required no cooperation, shot in quantity. Snapped, developed, looked at the results, and over again. For the most part it was still my mother and myself, but working intensively, and instinctively, everyone who was intertwined in our lives - my father, my brother Pinni, Eran, my grandparents, my cousins - all were drawn in. The frame became flexible and hospitable. Things I had previously considered marginal drifted to the center and often became themes in their own right. Ironically, the closer I got to the details, the more I zoomed in the more universal the themes turned out to be. Moving in turned out to be moving out. Work on minute details - a mark on the skin, a stitch, a hair, an eye, a kiss - carried the work beyond the boundaries of my family.

The presence of the camera too became more familiar, more relaxed. Still, it generated, not just documented, situations. Not because it had a personality, but because it aroused an attitude. By the very fact of documenting, the image competed with its object, showed it in a different, yet not at all false, light. It's like facing a mirror: when you look into it, you tighten your face muscles slightly, change your expression. I found myself and my family discovering more about ourselves, or at least, discovering nuances we couldn't otherwise see. Sometimes, the photographs came before I could articulate what it was that triggered them, giving form to some unformed feeling. More than that, the camera sometimes dares say what I don't dare think. These lines, between what I thought I saw in life, what I saw in the photographs, what I thought I saw in the photographs, became confusing in many ways. Like a permanent double take, I was not always sure if something - a mood, a sigh, a frown - captured an actual event, or if I was imposing on my memory a fraction the camera had caught. It often feels like I have two, parallel sets of memory. And yet, as complicated as the relations between representation and life may be, I do trust the camera, and what it captured is,

in many ways, real. The camera is, in fact, often less biased than my eyes. And since it preserves something from life - It would not otherwise be valuable for me - it is also a record. When I have something in a photograph, I feel like it is safe from time, I feel like I can also part with it. It gives me the illusion of having the actual past for safekeeping.

The work was never a burden for my family. As revealing as it might be, I never subscribed to the idea of art over life. Certainly in my relationship with them. That is not to say there are never any temptations. I caught myself once, when my father was ill, in bed with high temperature, running for the camera. I stopped. These would be too alienated. Too alienating. Both in terms of human relations, and in terms of art. It is the temptation of the provocative and the vulgar and I try to resist it. Then there is also the relationship between art and life that can't be preserved, as I see it, if my photographs become too intruding. They thrive on intimacy and can't afford to undermine it. I can't show intimacy in any general way, if there is such a thing as general intimacy. I can only say something universal about intimacy through actual intimacy. Mine. The actual real relationships I have with specific people. With these people that I love. The deepest I can reach is within what is most familiar and close. And so I set limits. I don't pounce on my mother when she's waking up. Don't get the camera when I have a fight with Eran. Don't stand aside to document when someone is crying. In many ways, they not only helped me. They became part of the work to such an extent that I can't consider it only as my own. It is, truly, also theirs.

Elinor Carucci

My analysis:

The first time I saw Carucci's work. The work resonated with me, and stuck around like a splinter. I knew the work too well. This is the work that if I was brave enough, I would make. Enforcing some sort of intimacy comes easy to me when it comes to strangers. Everybody wants to be listened to, everybody wants somebody to notice them, to pay attention and to care. I care for them and know how to ask the right kind of questions and share the right amount of myself. Our intimacy although enforced, it is true for the short time being. For some hours, for a night; the safety that we probably won't see each other again is too comforting. They can open up to me and tell me everything, because they know I'm safe, I don't know their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and family. Yet, intimacy with the people close to you, especially family can be arduous, problematic, complicated; especially when the relationships carry a baggage of their own. Unresolved feelings photograph too well. Carucci's work to me brings the vulnerability, closeness, chaos, rawness, beauty, ugliness, softness, hardness, and everything else that comes with intimate relationships. Her images are the punctum that Barthes describes in Camera Lucida; The photos prick me.

As silly as it may sound, her photos make me envious of her photographic relationship with her mother. In her website's statement about the series Closer, Carucci mentions her relationship with her mother from her first paragraph. "My mother was the first person I ever photographed and I still take pictures of her obsessively. Quite literally, in more than one way, she was - she is - my natural point of origin. My connection to the world. I used to think that the struggles with her, as well as the sense of closeness, security and warmth, the whole way I related to her during childhood, would somehow naturally end with the end of childhood. Perhaps they were transformed, elevated to other levels. But
in many ways, they never lost their power over me." She continues to write about her relationship with her mother, quite sentimentally, and not as straight to the point or academically, as the artist statements I am used to reading. However, I think the artist statements are to serve the purpose that the artist wants it to serve. What I mean by this is that if her photographs are about human relationships and aim to photograph some kind of sentimentality, why would her artist statement be overly rigid and emotionless? She is the only one to decide which kind of writing suits her images best.

She questions the veracity of her photos like semiotics would do or the deconstructionists or Susan Sontag would do. She yet defends the trueness of the photographs and claims that the camera might see more than she's capable of understanding. "By the very fact of documenting, the image competed with its object, showed it in a different, yet not at all false, light. It's like facing a mirror: when you look into it, you tighten your face muscles slightly, change your expression. I found myself and my family discovering more about ourselves, or at least, discovering nuances we couldn't otherwise see...as complicated as the relations between representation and life may be, I do trust the camera, and what it captured is, in many ways, real. The camera is, in fact, often less biased than my eyes. And since it preserves something from life - It would not otherwise be valuable for me - it is also a record. When I have something in a photograph, I feel like it is safe from time." I might disagree with her stance on photography photographing the real, yet true and honesty are not the same. Her photographs seem honest to me, and so does her writing about them.

My favorite part about her statement is when she states " They (the photographs) thrive on intimacy and can't afford to undermine it. I can't show intimacy in any general way, if there is such a thing as general intimacy. I can only say something universal about intimacy through actual intimacy. Mine. The actual real relationships I have with specific people. With these people that I love. The deepest I can reach is within what is most familiar and close" -Is it intimacy if you're not truly risking something about yourself? I think this portrayed really well in her photographs.

Duane Michals

It was difficult to find an artist statement for Duane Michals. Everything written about him since to be written in biography form such as that states accomplishments and backgrounds. I found a good paragrah at the Pace/McGill Gallery summery about his work.

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Analysis

Duane Michals was the first photographer to create a permanent influence in the way I see photography. His work questioned the medium of photography and it's ability to photograph any kind of truth. He did this in a time that photographers were getting recognition from their photo essays in Time Magazine. He is interested in photographing the things that he thinks photography lacks the capacity to photograph, such as human emotions, metaphysics, philosophical questions about life and death, desire, and relationships. One of his famous quotes that he likes to repeat in lectures states, "The best part of us is not what we see, it's what we feel. We are what we feel. We are not what we look at . . .. We're not our eyeballs, we're our mind. People believe their eyeballs and they're totally wrong . . .. That's why I consider most photographs extremely boring--just like Muzak, inoffensive, charming, another waterfall, another sunset. This time, colors have been added to protect the innocent. It's just boring. But that whole arena of one's experience--grief, loneliness--how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. It's all sitting up here. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don't have to go anywhere"
Michals' work sometimes in sequence, using narrative and texts written to provide other layer of complicity to the images is usually either poetic, humorous or tends to ask complex questions. I agree with the statement given by the gallery that the text is not there to provide an explanation, rather to further complicate things. "Rather than serving a didactic or explanatory function, his handwritten text adds another dimension to his images' meaning and gives voice to Michal's singular musings" I think the small paragraph provided by the gallery sums up very well his work in such short words. It's precise and to the point.

Sophie Calle

Take care of Yourself

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Statement:

I received an email telling me it was over.
I didn't know how to respond.
It was almost as if it hadn't been meant for me.
It ended with the words, "Take care of yourself."
And so I did.
I asked 107 women (including two made from wood and one with feathers),
chosen for their profession or skills, to interpret this letter.
To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it.
Dissect it.  Exhaust it.  Understand it for me.
Answer for me.
It was a way of taking the time to break up.
A way of taking care of myself.

Analysis

Sophie Calle's work to me plays between the lines of curiosity, admiration, longing and voyeurism. The use of her personal life, intimate moments, and honest curiosity about the subjects she chooses to investigate show in the text she writes along her photographs. I find her curiosity for closeness genuine. Sometimes, there seems to be no distinction where her life and her investigation for art begins. This is the case for, Take care of Yourself, where she asked 107 women to help her understand her break up letter that she received through email. Her statement for the series is short and explains the reason of the project and how it was done. It is short and poetic in explaining the viewer what he/she is about to see. The statement doesn't seem to need that much explanation because of the amount of writing and video that happens at the exhibition. This is all the viewer needs to know to understand. It answers the questions to, "This is what I'm doing" and "This is how I'm doing it."

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