Is anything sacred anymore? Do artists still exist? Not in the creative capacity but in the way of reality altering icons. Are there still Basquiat’s, Haring’s, and Warhol’s? Are there still Hendrix’s, Franklin’s, Huston’s, and Jackson’s? Ali’s, Frazier’s, and Tyson’s? Are there still entities on this planet who exist as immortals in the eyes of those who’s lives they change with their creativity?
Right now, the world around me feels stale. It seems that to rid ones self of feeling is there only way a person survive these days. Feelings are weakness but my tears still wash every negative with memories and emotions- things that are taboo now. What does passion mean anymore? How can we create without passion? Without love and pain? Do our hearts beat to the steady cadence of kicks and snares anymore?
It seems as if, if 2018, the photographer is still very clearly in underdog in the art world. Musicians and singers talk about social, emotional, and political issues with great praise. Painters and film makers tackle feelings with ease. Photography seems almost like the odd man out. Should a photographer express the way they feel or an issue relevant to their life in pictures, we are told that we’ve gone too far.
The reason for this, I think, is the inability to escape the harsh reality of what a picture contains. A photograph can only depict exactly what a situation is (short of photoshop, of course.) For instance, if I make a picture of a person snorting cocaine, I can give it a title or add a caption that uses euphemisms and metaphors but the picture is very clearly exactly what it is. A song can tell a very vivid story but in the end, the visualization is left up to the listener’s imagination. A painting is left up to interpretation and a film is left up to the critique of it’s elements as a whole. Photography, as self expressive art, is in many ways a very dangerous medium. With the advent of social media and society’s thirst for political correctness, it is difficult for a photographer to express his or her own truth through the depiction of reality without some form of backlash.
I was in the seventh grade when I first heard Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP featuring the song Kim. Now, as an adult who’s currently going through a messy divorce and have experienced similar trauma with family and my mother, I call fully appreciate Eminem’s ability to paint a picture of his frustration and ager with words. Every bar feels real and the tension in his life is made very apparent. With that said, I could never make a picture with that level of anger dedicated to the feelings I have going through what I am currently experiencing with my ex. At least, that’s the way I see it.
Photography, in the digital age, seems to be something of a novelty. Something people want to be nice, cute, and fluffy. We shouldn’t make pictures that make people uncomfortable, offend, or depict real issues. “Why would you make that picture?!” I hear often when I show people photographs of sex, drugs, and my past relationships. “It happened. It would have happened whether I had a camera or not. That’s life. I’m simply an observer who documents his experiences.”
Of course, i could use a paint brush to depict my feelings in an abstract manner. I could use metaphors in a song. I could write a screen play and pay actors to hint at the way things are in my world. Instead, I would rather show things the way they are. The unflinching, unadulterated truth though photographs. I am alive. I am hurting. I am happy. I am Hopeful. I am human. My pictures should be able to reelect my experience through my time and inspire others through theirs. Instead though, I am left with this debate; Do I allow society to dictate what is acceptable though my art or do I produce the work I feel in my heart and brace myself for the inevitable backlash for showing whats in my heart without censorship?