Wednesday, February 27, 2008

twelve: the double-helix remix

Here's a shuffle of shots but is there a dime store strand to hold the pearls together? Are there any pearls here? Is there too much redundancy or can you begin to hear a syncopated rhythm?

The story is approaching twelve. And twelve is an identity workshop, a green cast, the photo booth at the mall, tutoring your mom about myspace. I am planning to begin a parallel story on another twelve year old who goes to public school which might generate a narrative structure. These sketches of Madalyn give slightly different insights into the nuances of her character. I could use advice on how to prune or shape what has been collected so far.

Madalyn Grossman equates traditional school with worksheets and tension. At Roots, a self-directed learning environment, she designs her own day. Here Madalyn sings along to a song on her ipod into a hand-held soda bottle microphone in the Roots bio-diesel school bus.

Madalyn and Ella Ferris-Folkerts make an afternoon inspection of her cast that will be cut away in just a few more days. When Madalyn broke her arm her mother asked her if she wanted an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Madalyn said, “I got all serious and I said, ‘no, I can handle it’ and then I started screaming again. I got in the car and my mom drove really really fast to the emergency room.”

Madalyn hangs out with a cat while Eli takes a moment to say farewell on Mitchell on his final day of Roots. In the fall, a few of the boys at Roots constructed a tree fort and Madalyn, Rose, and Ella built a cat house made out of palates and plywood.

Madalyn, and Rose Bake ,left, and Allia Rahman, right, implement a strategy to crush the boys team during a morning of capture the flag

Rose, Madalyn, and Allia face off with Quanah Leija-Elias on the opposing team. The boundary is drawn; it’s girls against boys. Madalyn said, “They don’t let us play on their teams because they don’t think we’re fast enough. They say were slow runners and they don’t play by the rules.”

Tyler Thomas lurches away from the camera during capture the flag. “Kehynan and Tyler did really mean stuff to me and Rose so we have to have counseling meetings,” Madalyn said, “We had one this morning and they didn’t say a word. We sat there for five minutes waiting for an answer from them. They got their ipods out and basically weren’t respecting us as all.”

Madalyn and Ella Ferris-Folkerts work on math problems together. Slingshot jokes and personal news flashes prop up pensive stints of problem-solving while snow falls outside.

Madalyn and Isadora wait for their mother to order them sandwiches after dance class at the 9th Street Deli. Madalyn said her mother, “has a busy schedule so sometimes that catches up on us. We’ve done a lot together - more than my mom and my sister have - because my sister gets a lot more of the attention. Having all those experiences before she was born helps.”

Candy Grossman runs her hand though Madalyn’s hair before they leave for a dance class. “I’m her agent in way,” Madalyn said, “I like to organize her purse and organize her desk and manage her myspace page. She’s kind of clueless when it comes to myspace. She didn’t even know how to edit her profile. She knows how to do a lot of stuff on the computer that I don’t so I guess we’re even.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


capture the flag

december: last day of roots

For Eli, this really is his last day of roots. After the holidays, he moved to the south to live with his father.

Monday, February 11, 2008

five-points-of-view blueprint

The reading from the Tao of Photography made me think about Jackson Pollack and how he broke away from the tradition of representational painting and headed into unknown territory. Abstract Expressionism shifted the focus away from the object- the painting - and back toward the act of painting. Pollack walked around his canvas which would have been as big as the tundra and sent paint flying out over it in much the same way a raincloud throws water out across fields and rooftops. Whether this solemn ceremony resonates with the viewer is uncertain; if anything reaches us in the gallery, then we should accept it as an incidental side-effect, an unintended repercussion of the act of art-making. I think, though, the intention is to transport that raw energy of creation into the object. However, the performative aspects of painting don’t always survive in the final document. There’s two sides to art (yes, exactly that number). One that wishes to unshackle itself from commodifacation, the product, and the outcome and the other that pants as it races to meet people, the kind that opens the front door and shouts something at you as you walk by on the sidewalk. I mean it tells you something you really want to know maybe about our spineless culture or our need to rehearse community even as it splinters and gets stuck under our fingernails.

But right now is a good time to pry ourselves away from our built-in tendencies to art direct our final image, and to dive as deep as we will allow ourselves into the act of making photographs.

So the reading made me ruminate more over how I will photograph the five points of view assignment and less about what I will photograph. The five points of view present me an opportunity to reconnect with my original desire to become a photographer when I identified with the camera as a tool of discovery. Hopefully, I will incorporate the tangible suggestions from the text: breaking rules/photography conventions, shifting perspectives, exaggerating depaysement, staying aware of juxtaposition, and even hideously under and overexposing frames.

Veering in and out of twenty-four hours, I will follow Madalyn Grossman, a twelve-year old who is in the image above singing her heart out in the Roots biodiesel school bus. She leads an unconventional life and is most articulate about who she is and what she believes. She is also serious about her dance studies and I haven’t been with her outside of the Roots alternative school yet. This assignment will give me a chance to follow her into other spaces in her life.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

lost film

George is making a documentary about Scott and his haphazard/hazardous traveling lost film fest. George likes coffee but Scott doesn't. In the meantime, we all wanted to replay this quote by Cartier-Bresson again and again: In a world that is buckling under the weight of profit making, that is overrun by the destructive sirens of Techno-science and the power-hunger of globalization - that new brand of slavery - beyond all that, Friendship exists, Love exists.



Friday, February 1, 2008

spiral bound

Madalyn Grossman and Ella Ferris-Folkerts work on math problems at Roots Homeschool, an alternative learning habitat on the outskirts of Columbia. Slingshot jokes and personal news flashes prop up pensive stints of problem-solving while snow falls outside.