During Michael Mann’s 1981 film Thief, the title character Frank (played by James Caan) proposes marriage to Jessie (Tuesday Weld), a waitress he hardly knows. For her he pulls out his wallet and presents a folded photo collage that we have seen briefly before – he had been shown consulting it as if it were a compass or a map. Among the imagery it included were a few human figures, an old bearded man, a woman with a child, a house, some cars. “Here,” he says, “that is my life and nothing, nobody can stop me from making that happen.”
The renewal requires a death. Specifically, the second life, the new alternate life that comes with middle age, requires the identity-death of the child past, the symbolic figure of the immature being. So, Michel Campeau begins his new multi-part project Arboresccnces (2000) showing a young girl busy writing, and then he invokes an earlier picture set in a cemetery in which a barren tree shadow falls across the rocky ground, in the upper corner of which is the open maw of a freshly dug grave.
In June of 1998, fifty-year-old Quebec photographer Alain Chagnon undertook a journey. As a man and as a photographer, he was propelled in flight from the “here” of home in search of what must be found away and somewhere else. From this particular corner of the continent, he set out west and south to roam and photograph in Kansas and eight other of the much-travelled and -photographed southwestern United States, including Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and California.
While VOX has long been associated with the socially grounded photographic work of documentary, they have adopted for this occasion a more inclusive sense of documentary’s mis sion and its means. Instead of just the prosaic tone of “straight” photography, we have more lyricism, fiction, uncertainty, speculation and aestheticism.
Nommer un nouveau phénomène signifie le rendre compréhensible en établissant un lien entre lui et quelque chose de connu, selon une ressemblance ou une analogie qui les unira pour toujours. Lorsque les premiers documentaristes français, réalisateurs de films touristiques et autres, ont qualifié leurs oeuvres de documentaires, ils revendiquaient pour leur travail le statut de document, à l’instar des enquêtes scientifiques ou des recherches juridiques qui nous renseignent sur notre monde.
Before he ultimately lost his battle with cancer in 1994, my father had lived for fourteen years with the consequences of a laryngectomy. This operation successfully prolonged his life, but left him disfigured with a hole at the base of his throat, a strange respiratory arrangement (he breathed and coughed through the stoma) and the loss of his voice.
Like the contemporary anthropologist, the Canadian photographer of Latin America maintains an existential straddle between what Clifford Geertz identified as the being there and the being here sides of the ethnographic divide, where there is the domain of the work of inquiry and here is the region of professional display and performance.
The young James Joyce has provided me with more than a title. His exuberant self-announcement in celebration of his being, and of his being seen, also contains an illuminating childish grammatical slip: misemploying the objective case. To shout joyfully, “Here I am – the object of your attention!” is to state precisely the ways in which the subject operates in the field of the Other. Or, as French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan characterized the discourse of Jean Piaget’s egocentric child, “a case of hail to the good listener!”
In the language of human (or time) geography, the life path of the war photographer marks a tense existence between inclusion and separation. Understood spatially, the activity of the photographer is located inside or outside demarcated zones which establish for the photographer and the work a position and a role. The photograph, and what we come to know of it, is the product of this activity and signals to us the conditions of its source moment.