Thursday, August 5, 2010


[Anonymous Picture - Photographer Unknown]

Recently flipped through an interesting book at the bookstore composed entirely of anonymous photos collected by the author. What does that mean? The author spent years going around to various exhibits, garage sales, and flea markets purchasing old photographs  taken by photographers long gone and forgotten that fit into various themes broadly centered around the human experience. Quite clever, yes? For a project based solely on taking ownership of images that have been abandoned, the book was chock full of wit and creativity.

For some reason, the photo above kind of struck a nerve with me. It initially made me laugh, but the deeper meaning behind the image started to sink in shortly after. The subject is (no pun intended) the poster boy for victims of overzealous fathers everywhere. Body language, facial expression, the ill-fitting uniform, and the final touch of subtle rage that can be seen in the boy's grip on the football all indicate that the subject has been forced into this personally humiliating but culturally accepted notion of manhood. He is in effect an uncomfortable minnow in shark's clothing. Through this image, we are also given a glimpse of who is behind the lens. I only hope that I don't turn into that guy one day.

The weight of expectation can sometimes crush the soul, especially when all the soul wants to do is follow its inner call. Life is filled with enough distractions, diversions, and pitfalls without the added hindrance of an unwanted audience.

I've been studying the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, and I am struck by what a great writer he was in addition to his well publicized talent as a painter. Vincent's early letters to his brother tell of a talented but withdrawn artist who seeks recognition from others. This desire to please may have driven Van Gosh to great artistic heights but probably also to his death at 37 without being witness to the heaps of acclaim that followed.

Life and art are one in the same.

So I walk on. And if I can't find my way or get pushed off, then I will just chop a new path.

And if I happen to pump a fist and raise a finger along the way, so be it.

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