‘I keep a physical and metaphorical distance between myself and the subject. It’s a way of delineating my ‘foreignness’ and is a similar stance to the one I took while working in Poland making The Sound of Two Songs (2004-09). It’s comes very naturally to me; I’ve always felt I’m better at observing than participating, so to stand back and watch from afar suits me very well.’
I often find myself drawn to photos with some distance.
Via Mick Hartley, Steve Fitch Photography has neon motel signs glowing into the Western night.
He also has a book simply titled ‘Motel Signs:’
What’s more American than an exiled member of the Russian aristocracy intimately making his way into the English language and peering out from a thousand Motor Lodges?
“Nabokov in America” is rewarding on all counts, as biography, as photo album (there are many pictures of people, Western landscapes and motels) and as appreciative criticism. Not least, Roper even avoids the arch style so often adopted by critics faintly trying to emulate their inimitable subject.’
Well, there’s Donald Judd and Marfa, Texas, which looks interesting:
As previously posted, The Critic Laughs, by Hamilton:
Do you long for the days of unabashed American consumerism? Are you nostalgic for nights lit only by a soft, neon glow on the underbellies of clouds? Return to a time when America broadcast its brash, unironic call to the heavens.
But it can be empty, and lonely, and full of hard work and suffering:
I have seen fear where the coiled serpent rises,
Thirst where the grasses burn in early May
And thistle, mustard and the wild oat stay.
There is dust in this air. I saw in the heat
Grasshoppers busy in the threshing wheat.
So to this hour. Through the warm dusk I drove
To blizzards sifting on the hissing stove,
And found no images of pastoral will,
But fear, thirst, hunger, and this huddled chill.
‘Detroit Nocturne‘ found here. Via Mick Hartley.
I’m partial to ‘Joey’s Meatcutter Inn, Bar & Grill 2017‘:
Immediately, I think of Edward Hopper: The lonely cityscape at night or the familiar glow of gas station lights cast into the American wilderness. The eye might want to linger among the colors, shapes and clouds even though the mind knows this is pretty much an empty street in a ‘post-industrial’ zone.
Perhaps it has do with another strand of expression: The break into free verse from past forms. The move from American Romanticism to Modernism which occurred this early past century. William Carlos Williams produced many good poems from a process of earnest, scrapbook-style intensity in trying to discover, redefine, and order a new poetic form within a modern ‘urban landscape.’
The individual artist is quite alone in the task he’s set before himself, and like much of modernism, it’s a rather big task.
When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.
will believe this
of vast import to the nation
Do you believe any of that to be of vast import to the nation? Are you no one?