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Places I have lived in

Presence (Secret Way Back) #1 © Monika Sosnowski

Window I Looked Out From Once © Monika Sosnowski

This is a prelude. I’m putting together a longer piece referencing and inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space.”

I’ve been rethinking the use of blogging. Naturally this – my blog – in particular. I’m working on expanding its format and reach in an effort to make it a platform for presenting and sharing content about and related to photography. Photography mainly but also art in general. Blogging for artists is part of the practice. I think of it as an extension of the physical studio space, which at times also functions as a virtual substitute.  The importance of a personal blog shouldn’t be underestimated even in a sea of blogs and social media venues. I’ve grown weary of Facebook and am seriously considering opting out once and for all. Instagram is actually pretty great in the way it is mainly about the image.  But we are living in a time of endless image streaming. Posting, looking, looking, looking… Are we actually seeing?

It’s easy to post. It’s easy to created beautiful pictures with iPhones, it’s soooo easy to give them away into the world. We’ve been very generous with our visions. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that and I myself enjoy participating in the act of this amazing picture sharing phenomena. But something is missing. Maybe it’s too late and certainly we can’t go back. Still, for myself I need a place of reflection. Thus the blog. It too can become a self-referencing entity, which is fine because in addition to being an extension of the studio, it also become a kind of a notebook, sketchbook, test print.

It feels only right to include here, as a kind of bookend, an image which has haunted me for over twenty years.  It’s Duane Michal’s photograph titled, “This is My Proof.” It’s one of those images forever etched into my being, almost to the point where it’s as if I was both there – the subject of the photograph – and the one who made it. I think this happens with really great books. I once read about a writer mentioning just that, how people get absorbed by the story, riveted by its language and form, that upon meeting with the book’s author instead of saying: “I just read your book” they say: “I just wrote your book.” In any case I’m including Michael’s photograph here because I love it and because many times just looking it at made me feel at home.

This is My Proof © Duane Michals

I’ve linked both the image and the highlighted text above to an interesting interview with Duane Michals from 2014. Please check it out for a wonderful slide show of his work as well as his thoughts on photographs vs words. Writing of course has been a significant part of his work. He states: “My writing grew out of my frustration with photography. I never believed a photograph is worth a thousand words. If I took a picture of you, it would tell me nothing about your English accent; it would tell me nothing about you as a person. With somebody you know really well, it can be frustrating. Sixty per cent of my work is photography and the rest is writing. “

Hmm… Here I was musing about concepts of home, the spaces we inhabit, how my work is born out of that realm and somehow all that led to this. As a disclosure I don’t agree with his sentiment. In fact I believe a picture can tell me something about your English accent; it can tell me so much about you as a person – not everything, nothing can – but still enough.

Any thoughts?

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Janine - What a wonderful conversation to start. It calls to mind for me wondering about old graveyards, and how the vogue of adding an image to the headstone did add so much more to the recognition of the experience.
Photos can speak very eloquently for themselves, and words can be poetic and transforming, and the handwriting of someone you love can elate or break a heart by the sheer echo of their presence.
I love them all. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Lisa - An odd reaction to the Duane Michals photo you’ve posted. I was surprised to read that the photographer, and the one writing about it was the male in the picture, for the woman in the image seems to own that experience, with the intensity of her gaze, and the intensity of her embrace. Can it be that the photographer is loving the woman in reverse: more so now than at that moment?

Monika Sosnowski - I believe there isn’t just one reading of an image, any image – this image. I never read it as from a male point of view (or that that is the photographer). Rather, for me it was always about something beyond that particular photograph. It was a moment I was able to identify with, a feeling of love and longing for something that’s gone but was there once. Something like that. xoxox :)

Monika Sosnowski - Thank you Janine! Wow! How wonderfully heartfelt your response is. I love where it ventures and the image it creates of an experience of remembering. Memories. And memories of loved ones who are no longer among us are their own special category of heartbreak and enduring love. Thank you. xoxoxo

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