peripheral vision

photography by Kate Wilhelm

peripheral vision blog

because making photographs exposes as much about the photographer as the subject

more Critical Mass Top 20

It’s been forever since I posted here, I know. We’ve been buried in illness since Christmas. We’d get a day or two of beginning to think we’re better and then it would start all over again. But I’m hoping there may actually be light ahead. Fingers crossed.

I haven’t forgotten about my Critical Mass Top 20 that I started months ago. In fact, some of my favourites are still to come. I was going to throw up a photo or two of my own, but then I decided to challenge myself to get closer to finishing that damn list. I think I won’t do this again. But I committed, and I’d like to finish.

First up, Ronit Citri’s Plan View of an Inner Life. I was almost just going to click past it, but this image stopped me in my tracks.

Citri is an architect in her other life, where she uses plan views to show what a space looks like from above.

The photos at first seem cold and distant but as you look, they suddenly become honest and raw. The inner states I imagine her experiencing may or may not be what she actually experienced. But I like that. I don’t need to know if what I’m imagining i ‘true.’ What first looks like emptiness becomes space for me to insert myself and imagine those are my own feet, and it’s me contemplating the distance to the cat or the baby or the cold tub.

I adore Bob Carey’s self-portraits wearing nothing but a pink tutu. I love them all so much, I want to post all ten images that he submitted to Critical Mass here and not choose three. So I’ll choose five. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get a better size here, but if you go look at them larger on his website (choose Personal from the menu), you can revel in the details.

Carey_B-02

Carey_B-05

Carey_B-07

Carey_B-08

Carey_B-10

At first glance, it’s tempting to write the series off as a sort of practical joke, documented in photographs. But when I look at them, I think about gender and conformity, about trying to fit into a world where you simply don’t fit. Of course it’s entirely possible that if you showed me an orange or a plate, I’d think about gender and conformity just because that’s big lens through which I view the world.

Carey’s submitted statement talks about different ideas. He does mention moving from Phoenix, Arizona to Brooklyn, New York. But he sees the pink tutu as a way in which he transforms himself into something he’s absolutely not. He sees the series as being about humour, play and introspection. I see that, but I also see more.

In almost all the photographs, visually, the pink tutu stands out from the visual field. I see it as a metaphor for the things about us that just don’t fit. Usually we try to keep those things at least a little bit private but Carey lets himself stand out. And all his imperfect and vulnerable skin is what our nightmares are made of. Look at where’s his naked toes are in the subway image: he’s crossing the yellow line. A man wearing a pink tutu in public is playing a dangerous game. And look at the spectacle he makes at Times Square, arguably the biggest spectacle of the known world itself. People are literally pointing at him and several have their cell phones out to photograph this strange man.

Writing this small amount has take two hours with my kids’ various interruptions. My oldest wants to watch a program on the computer now so I’ll sign off here.

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