Particulr Photography Blog
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There are many long and winding roads through this state, passing all manner of places seemingly abandoned or frozen in time. They act as tiny markers of pause and wonder as I drive by. I observe but never stop.
From my car window I see pictures that are almost surreal, the vision’s imaginary histories and emotions dictated by the fleeting moment it has my attention. They are somehow time keepers of who I am, my soul passing them in varied states of change and confusion through the years. I am always trying to escape and yet as I return again and again, they exist just as I remember. They are a constant. And I photograph them in memoriam of myself, least I forget this house and all the others that whispered a promise as I flew by on the road.
Wandering through a park outside the city on a Saturday afternoon, I was caught by the sound of clashing plastic weaponry and the sight of fleeting capes in flourishes of red and kelly green. The woods was being used as an impromptu film set and I tried to interrupt as respectfully as possible. A group of kids were making a fantasy and the director informed me it was for her university, although they looked much younger to me. But that could be my age talking.
The home grown attempt at a Tolkien epic was incredible - each actor and crew taking themselves very seriously despite the glitter on cheeks and the handheld video camera circa 1995. There was suspicion as well - no one wants to be mocked for wearing plastic swords criss - crossed on their backs. I was so struck by their obvious dedication and the pride that they had for their project. Unabashedly making a classic story of elves, of sprites, of valor, of loss. I miss having that courage.
I was thrilled at the unbelievable poses they gave me, filled with the solidarity and gravitas of people much older. I felt so privileged to shoot them and was incredibly disappointed to find I had underexposed my whole set of images that day. However, I’ve found a few I could salvage. And they are well worth it.
What really interested me was all the potted plants.
My parents live in an even smaller town - one of under 3000 to be exact. It has six traffic lights. It has two grocery stores (but only recently). It has one post office. And one polling place … just one.
There are no computerized voting booths. There are no long lines to get inside. Simply a card table full of elderly volunteer men and women who write my name down on the list and hand me an “I Voted” sticker at the end. The ballots are paper and filled in with pen from behind cardboard partitions with the American flag on it. I place my ballot upside down in a metal letter box on the table whilst one of the old ladies asks me if I am married yet. She knows my mother.
I came to this polling place with my parents as a child. I stood outside it on November 5th a grown woman. People were definitely suspicious of me, eyeing my clothing and camera as a foreign entity. I’ve forgotten how marked I am now - how clearly out of place I look in these tiny rural surroundings. I am a “city person”.
They were hesitant but not unfriendly. Confused at my wanting to photograph them. “I’m so ugly I hope I don’t break your camera” they say. I assure them they will not.
In a period in our history where we are never more divided, the tension was palpable in the air. The chasm between city and country has never been wider and I feel the tug inside of me. I love where I am from and yet I often feel smothered when I am here. I was born and raised in this place, but am no longer regarded as a “local” by my hometown. I am a stranger to them … I am a stranger to myself. And I don’t know what that means.
New POSI+TIVE Magazine
In which I interview Ben Pier about his book Teenage Teeth.