Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Point to Ponder

I was watching a historically accurate dramatized documentary on Tina Modotti and her life after she moved to Mexico to live and work for a few years with Edward Weston. It was interesting since I didn't know much about her but loved some of her images, those of Mexico and especially some still lifes. My favorite, which I saw in print, is the staircase.

In the documentary, based on her journals, she said that she read, "The art of photography is to take something ordinary, mundane, and capture it as looking at it for the first time." I can't think of a better way than the staircase. We walk up and down them all the time. We see them in all shades of light and dark, and shadows. We wear them out. But do we stop to just look for a moment? Or stop to see something we hadn't seen, to see them anew?

While watching the documentary I was struck with her statement, "And I will show you something different, from either, your shadow at morning striding behind you, or your shadow at dusk rising to meet you. I will show you fear in a handfull of dust."

I'm not sure what she meant about this with her photography and we can all interpret it as we want, since we won't really know. When she left Mexico, she rarely picked up a camera let alone talk about her past work in photography. It was a phase in her life than something throughout her life, or as with many photographers, a major part of and in their life if not their whole life.

It's always interesting how we pick and choose the pieces of someone's personality or life we admire or respect, and discard the rest by saying it simply doesn't interest us. The docu-drama about Tina Modotti is an example as later in life she was involved with communist causes, eventually living and working in Moscow before going to Spain to fight the facists, and eventually returning to Mexico.

And in Mexico she died alone in a taxi cab. The reports seem to suspect it was natual causes, since she had numerous connections with the (then) Soviet Communist Party, and along with other Russian ex-patriots or communist who left Russia to live in Mexico and die there, from an assasinations or suspicious causes, like Tina Modotti. Or we can think it look suspicious .

For me, photography has been a minor part, when I bought my first camera in the fall of 1969. I've always set it aside for periods of time because of life or work, and now looking back, it is the one thing I deeply regret. That I didn't keep it with me and take several times more photographs than I did. But hindsight is only good for that, and nothing more except to toast its passing.

And my point? Damned if I really know, I was mentally wandering aroung an idea and an image I like. But I guess in the end, we make our own sense of our photography and leave the rest to the viewer.

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