Photography is a means to describe the world that was less invention and more a realization of a set of ideas and ideals about seeing and representation. I am fascinated by the circular causality of this medium in and upon the world, in its affect performed on its subject, and in the way photographic images direct perceptions so that wants, needs, and knowledge remain inextricably intertwined, evident without being exposed.
My last two extensive projects, To Say It Isn’t So, and an earlier series, Hardly More Than Ever, are comprised of still-life color photographs of arranged objects such as wrapping paper, plastic containers, Styrofoam cups, cans, leftover food bits, and found trinkets. I began this work in 1997 as observations of forgotten details, remnants of daily subsistence and pleasure. For many years I had been intrigued with Dutch-Flemish and Italian still-life paintings whose exacting beauty documented shifting social attitudes resulting from exploration, colonization, economics, and ideas about seeing as a kind of truth. I began this work in East Berlin where the unfamiliar context made me intensely aware of my own cultural and material relationship to food. I continued this project at my homes in New Haven, Rome, Berlin, and Chicago.
The still life genre is unavoidably a commentary on society’s material-mindedness and the way images promote a kind of promise of attainability. I am not interested though in the allure of the meal that awaits an unseen viewer’s consumption. Instead, I photograph the remains of meals and its refuse so as to investigate the relationships between ripeness and decay, delicacy and awkwardness, control and haphazardness, waste and plenitude, pleasure and sustenance. Throughout my long-term photographic practice I wish to engage the photograph’s transformative qualities, changing what is typically overlooked into something splendid in its resilience. I want to look at what is “after the fact,” at what (ma)lingers, at what persists, and by inference, at what is gone. These projects are part of my ongoing photographic exploration of intimacy as the homely and the beautiful.