RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, June 13

MNZ: American Photo May/June 2011


A very brief page hyping up recent photography art books in this thing had some dude who does journalistic picture taking that had spent a bunch of time taking pictures of the homeless and downtrodden somewhere or another, of course in black and white. About the same time I saw that, I was in supervisor training where I work at now, and in the midst of cleanface people with cleanface futures and pasts, who feel comfortable in business clothes, making corny ass jokes about dumb shit. It occurred to me how exploitative it is to have these photo books, under the guise of photojournalism, of the poor and downtrodden wretcheds of the earth, because it's not for those people to see - it's for the more affluent to get a glimpse into something they don't want to dirty themselves up with in real life.
Actually this line of thinking got me to really question what I'd like to do with my talents in life, and whether finishing up the novels I'm working on and trying to be a successful fictioneer is really worth it, because if I give my unique voice a larger forum, is it really for the benefit of those I'm speaking about (and hopefully for)? Or is it to give someone who has no fucking clue a glimpse into that? And if I'm just selling off a glimpse into the freak show that is my real life's set of experiences and existences and interactions, aren't I really just selling off some of my people's soul? Aren't I just letting other's steal my swag so to speak, let the palefaces steal my soul with their clickboxes that show my image on paper? It's caused me to do some serious re-evaluation of the end goals of my personal dreams.
Anyways, as I sat in one of those bullshit supervisor classes, listening to a cleanface yammer on about management buzzwords and increasing the efficiency of the overall work-life of everyone underneath me and my cheap psychological tactics on the authority scale, it got me to wishing I was clicking pictures of these people in this environment, making their world a show. And then I'd blow the pictures up to like 3 foot by 5 foot and we'd have a show along the river somewhere where the homeless hang, and let the roles reverse. Or throw it up in the middle of a housing project basketball court for the weekend, and have a big ass cookout in the middle of it all as the opening event, eating lots of pork heavily coated in various sauces, with coolers full of canned beer that ain't PBR. Switch the fucking roles.
In fact, it was thinking about that last week when I was walking by one of those nice open-air restaurants with all the people sitting in clusters outside but on the other side of a fairly sturdy fence that you have to go through the restaurant to get through that caused me to just pop out my shitty handheld homepix camera (sporting some new brown duct tape to hold it together) and start clicking pictures of people sitting at the tables, including this one big group of about 10, most of them looking to be in their 30s, and comfortable. Two of the dudes saw me and were like, "waht the fuck?" but I kept taking pictures. One of them said, "Hey! What are you doing? Would you stop doing that?" but I just ignored them and kept taking pictures, concentrating on the other end of their table where most of the women were sitting. One dude got up first and the second got up with him as he came over the fence. "Stop taking our picture you asshole!" but I kept taking pictures. It was open space, fuck him. I saw the petite little waiter girl looking my way worriedly and then head inside the restaurant proper, probably to tell her authoritarian about it all, and the one more upset dude by the fence started leaning at the fence like he was gonna jump it, so I took off running down the street. He yelled "Fuck you asshole!" and when I got about 30 feet away, I saw he was still on his side of the fence, so I stopped, turned around, and clicked one more picture, and then walked away. And perfectly enough, there was a raggedy, bearded, homeless-looking ass dude sitting on some steps of a building across the side street from where this happened, looking at me, and laughing a deep and soulful belly laugh, tickled silly by what he'd just watched.
Now that's fucking art photography. All the pictures I took sucked - just a bunch of white motherfuckers eating while trying to not look like they're eating. Still though, I am comfortable with my artistic process. I'll probably try it again this Thursday as I have to be in that general vicinity again.

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