Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bruce Davidson's Photography

Bruce Davidson's photography, is a recent discovery of mine. I do not know a lot about any of his work with the exception of the photo series he did on the civil rights movement. However, while googling imagines this man took, the same feeling was evoked in me over and over and over again.

What feeling or feelings do these photo's evoke in you? To me.. Almost every photo I viewed ( these are just a few examples ) I felt ISOLATION. Complete and total isolation. Even the photographs with families.. There was still an overpowering feel of this emotion, this prison. I say prison, because I do not get a sense that the subjects in these photo's enjoy the isolation. It is unwelcome, but present.
This is an image of a family.. But something about their stance, their separation from the other houses, the contrast in the image,and the somewhat make shift home they seem to live in oppose to the buildings behind them... is.... sad. The children have such a frozen expression. A painful expression on such a small figure. The parents with more practice of faking an emotion both have slight smiles.. Unconvincing smiles at that.

I wonder if the artist had empathy for these subjects, and wanted to reach out to them and was touched by their situations.. And therefore choose to photograph them.. Or, did Bruce not choose to photograph them.. Did they perhaps choose him? Was he a man of tortured isolation to the point that his subjects choose him without his consent? Without his knowledge of the connection he has with them? The lighting in his photographs pulls this emotion out even more. The image of the man up against the wall by a messy bed, is a wonderful example of the dark lighting with bright contrast highlights. It pushes and pulls.. The way these photographs push and pull on my head. I almost can not stand to look at them. Naturally as humans, we want to turn away from things that upset us. His work upsets me. It is done so wonderfully that the feeling of isolation jumps out. I almost feel like it is chasing me from the picture. Kind of like the horror films that have an image come out of the TV and attack.. That is exactly what I feel when I look at these. The isolation is coming for me in these images and I instinctively want to run away. But like a deer in headlights... I can not leave them, I have just spent an unknown amount of time gawking at these pictures.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you.

    I discovered Bruce through the Bob Dylan album Togheter Through Life. Amazing photographs.