Tuesday, June 9, 2020

06/20 Blue Car Pink Dress

Blue Car, 2020
People have been making Corona Virus period pieces and others recording their experiences while under lockdown, social distancing or whatever. I'm not a journalist or a social commentator and I wasn't going to make pictures of empty streets. The irony now, of course, is that the streets are sure as hell not empty anymore anyway. But my experience of this pandemic as an artist is no more worth noting than anyone else's experience. But being in this democratic social media environment, it seems to be the main drive for many artists I suppose.

If anything has characterized this time for me, it has been the heightened social isolation that has been imposed on me because I live alone to begin with. But I'm not suffering. I have food. I live comfortably in a safe neighbourhood and I'm in no danger whatsoever. I'm one of the lucky ones. If anything, the relative luxury I live in has been underscored by the events of the past few months. My large Montreal apartment and the furniture in it has been staring me down with accusations of privilege. It's quiet here. It's peaceful. The mice have moved in and stroll around the apartment like there's no one here. I've evicted at least one so far. But it has not, in any way, shaped how I go about making art. My creative process is an on-going process. It doesn't need to be fed by current events. In fact I question whether any of these Covid-19 portfolios are art at all. The precedent, I suppose, is the work of American photographers during the American dustbowl, or perhaps more recently the on-going work of Sebastiao Selgado.

So in looking for a project to do I was consciously steering around the entire Corona Virus issue. I was not entitled to any comment on it it seemed. It was not the kind of thing I do. I began by making photographs of the empty apartment, emphasizing the social isolation it was feeling. I covered furniture with white sheets like abandoned chateaux or English manors. Even that seemed to be a poorly constructed metaphor of self indulgence. "Poor me" in my corona isolation. I had time on my hands and I just wanted to be productive.

I was also at an impasse since it seemed that my "Reflections" series was at a standstill if not at an end. I was looking for a new project, a new idea. I started playing with some images on my computer screen, making collages the way I used to make collages years ago. I sometimes gave myself a 4X5 format to work with as a means of staying within a restricted photographic paradigm. I also told myself I could make a 1:1 series for my Instagram platform. These images were just the first few I made. But it gives me a focus for using my telephone to make images that might serve as parts rather than whole images.

Pink Dress, 2020