Well, it’s finally going to see the light of day: After the Fact.
It began as a project about young women, shifted into a speculation on what the future might look like and finally settled into, I don’t know . . . maybe the news.
Now, on September 21st the book will be launched at Studio 66, in Ottawa. The launch will be accompanied by a mini-exhibition (14 prints) of images from the book.
I’m finally getting around to making exhibition prints of the files. I used an old digital camera for After the Fact, with the ISO pushed up to the very top. The images are full of noise, and torturing the ISO really changes the way the tones are rendered in the files. But that’s fine, I wanted these pictures to be kind of degraded. And I’m thrilled with the way the prints look.
I know it’s kind of stupid and weird to work on a project for almost 3 years without making test prints early on. But that’s the way I roll.
In the future I’ll have to make ’em a bit bigger, just to see. But I never imagined I’d make super-huge prints of these pictures. In fact, I had always envisaged After the Fact to be a book, anything else is gravy.
So if you’re around Ottawa next Friday I hope you’ll drop by Studio 66 to pick up the book and look at the prints.
Studio 66 After the Fact
Book launch: September 21st
6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
The exhibition continues until: September 28th
858 Bank Street
This Friday I took delivery of 200 copies of After The Fact.
Now I’m wrapping them and inserting the 4×5 inch print that comes with every preorder so I, in turn, can deliver them to their new homes . . . from Chile to Norway.
Thanks to everyone who supported this project.
There are less than 50 copies available. Go here to pick one up.
I haven’t always been conflicted about the photographs of Roger Ballen.
Ten or so years ago, when I ran across his book, Platteland, I thought it was great. The images there were mostly reality-based portraits shot in the South African countryside. You could see a direct line from Disfarmer, through Arbus and Avedon, to what Ballen was showing us, and how he was showing it.
Then time went on and Ballen’s work progressed. The imagery became more and more melodramatic, and overstatement and repetition became a kind of modus operandi. Along with this he developed some kind of overarching philosophy about what his work was about and how it might be interpreted (and doesn’t seem shy about telling you about it). I began to have my doubts.
You see, my own biases are towards reality-based imagery. I try to like and appreciate constructed imagery, but often my heart’s not in it. I think, too, that I am (rightly or wrongly) kind of turned off when an artists’ pronouncements and legend-building move too far forward in their scheme of things.
Having said all that I also have to say that I’m intrigued by what he does and am still in thrall of that early work. So it was with great interest that I went to have a look at THERE IS NO OUTSIDE, a show of Roger Ballen prints at SPAO.
The show is modest . . . we see 9 Ballen prints. There is also a video monitor showing 2 documentary-type things and a music video.
It is impossible to assess the scope and progress of Ballen’s work with such a small sampling, though there is also a copy of Ballen’s latest book, Ballenesque, on view . . . a compendium his work along with enough writing for you to see where he’s coming from.
It is a pleasure to be able to approach and study the prints. I was struck by the grit, and the sheer old-school photographic-ness of them. Too, there is something to be said for being alone in a gallery with this imagery, being able to walk up to and away from it, to see the actual artifact.
Kudos to SPAO for bringing this exhibition to Kapital City. It is the first in SPAO’s new series of annual exhibitions that feature an international artist. I look forward to seeing where they go from here with this program.
When I began my latest project, back before Trump was elected, or even running to be, President of the USA, I was calling it The Future.
That, what the future might look (and feel) like, was what I was trying to show, was the thought I was holding in my head as I went about shooting and sequencing the images.
But as I got deeper into the thing that title, The Future, seemed too proscriptive, didn’t leave enough room for the viewer to wonder. And leaving room for the viewer to wonder is, in my opinion, central to art.
At any rate, about 9 months ago I decided to call the work After the Fact.
That seemed a more open-ended title, with some future, some outcome, being merely implied. People looking at the work might wonder, “After what fact?”.
But it would seem that events have overtaken the possible future I had imagined. It would seem that we have moved past whatever fact the work asked its viewers to imagine. We no longer have to imagine, it’s there, right in front of us.
So now this work seems to me to be more like news (although not the news that’s presented to you by all the status quo minds and habits that seem to control media, governmental and corporate institutions).
Perhaps I should change the title again, maybe I should call it The Present.