My official portfolio ver 2.0 is online. Every bit of gratitude goes to Benjamin, or Mr. Diggles, who put this thing together over the last few months entirely on his own accord. I’ve mentioned him before for his smart, polished, and complex electronic music, and b/c he’s a close friend. With this new site he’s outdone himself. He tells me it’s standard compliant and all this other nerdy stuff. He might be the definition of autodidactic.

Benjamin, thank you for everything.

photo: Benjamin and I in a photobooth at a fashion tradeshow, NYC, 2007

photo: Benjamin and I, haggered, ridicolous, at a fashion tradeshow, NYC, 2007

Oh, and this, this is a wonderful picture I have of Benjamin (center), and my two younger brothers, Scott (left) and Ian (right). I probably took this when I was, maybe, 16. When I dug it up I was so sentimental of it I actually did a print with an accompanying text. Using text with a photo is a no no for me, but displays of sentimentality, alas, are something I’m prone to. Anyway, here’s the photo, and, as off topic as it is from the original point, for kicks, I’ll include the text too:

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell 2006

Possibly this picture risks being a mediocre stock photograph: something that’d exist almost imperceptibly under heavy text on the back of a young novelists first and last book, under-developed and hyper-reflexive, a book that will go unread for years at a time at the county library, a book titled “Summer Dreams,” “The Swimmers,” or something as such. Maybe it somehow reconciles this risk though by stepping without perfunctory gimmick into more: To childhood. To brothers. To best friends. To moments of the wonderment and inculpability- before anxiety and heartbreak and fucking and what all becomes ubiquitous baggage – to innocence, I guess.

Scott, Benjamin, Ian, respectively left to right, standing below a railroad bridge on some hot evening that nobody can pin down anymore on a river that manages to run with such stories. They’re probably hungry and tired, and yet completely uncaring of it. They’re relaxed and confident, jesting with the bridge they’d leapt from. And, Christ was it ever high, like 65, no 70 feet (I imagine measured with string and a pair of dangling brass knuckles to weight it). Some other kid broke both his shoulders and arms the week before, another had drowned or so the stories went. Or so the myths were built. We though, unscathed, were drunk on it…I tell you: it was as romantic as hell.

Benjamin was that remarkable best friend you have growing up. The one too tremendous for life who gets the girl but doesn’t care, the one who never got the grades but who was never bothered about it anyhow, the one who knew neither deliberation nor regret. He who stands on the verge of infinite possibilities, an ever awaiting crescendo that is just about to pique but never does. And there he is, gorgeous, laughing, shrugging, mocking everything that is and everything that lays beyond. That naturally cocky, audacity that lights fields on fires and evades punishment and injury through some unknown force. Then, Scott, on the left, my younger brother, looks up in what is I think an unlikely contemplation and is more likely some motion tied to a snide and shocking vulgarity. The long scar on his shoulder represents the many: he was small, pretty, agile, and absolutely without fear. I think he did a double gainer off the bridge that day. Leaping out and falling through the center of the bridges skeleton, past 15 feet of steel, then into the open air, and finally into the still water, only the baited breaths of us looking on disturbing the air, and the sounds of our hands tightly gripping to the sun warmed rust. He who you may catch now with a waitress in a dirty restroom out back, the guy who got in more fights in a year than most people will see in their life: not even fights as much wild brawls that were more tests of recklessness than anything personal. Then, on the right, Ian. You can’t see much of him, but this is fitting. There is only his curly blonde hair, then his discerning feature, and his natural quietude as he looks on. He is the youngest brother. The quiet one. The one with immense intellect and character that is almost wasted on a world that he doesn’t quite play into. He is looking to Ben, probably for clues… I can’t remember if Ian even jumped that day, or if ever. Not that it would have mattered. He never needed too. The energy was vicarious. Nobody cared. Really, I’m not sure if Ian could even swim. It’s likely he would just wade by the bank, hanging to the rocks, keeping conversation with us by yelling over his shoulder up to the bridge…

It’s possible that all this is fiction, just bits of imagined and hoped histories. But there’s the impression. The self-consciousness of age can’t infringe on that. They all may have ran the road to mediocrity, developed drug habits, got old and ruined overnight, moved away to not be heard from again…but somehow past any possible prejudices there’s still this moment, this glimpse, this hopeful impression burned deep into the image, past the silver into some unknown construct of the film. I hope, just maybe, this can affect some sort of sympathy: you know, some sort of profundity that shows what a picture can become.

I’ve nothing to add here.

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

Coney Island is like an old resilient Dostoevsky character, bestowed with that solitary sadness that comes with the territory of prolonged sufferings and a sheer volume of years amassed. It was lonely last time I visited there, except for the small remnants of some, uh, ritual that had taken place before, probably the day before from the looks of it. It was a memory I encountered the wake of. I imagined it had been a wedding, b/c that’s the only sense I could make from rose buds, tamale wrappers and a Virgin Mary hankerchief…but, wedding or not, it all bore little optimism b/c of it’s succinct fading…left was slight remnants, barely visible, almost invisible, giant in their smallness. Times certain and inevitable erosion of everything was, on the other hand, something that was entirely visible and certain and exact. That a chord was struck is blatant, but for some reason the remnants, the entire place made me think of a sentence, which I’m only able to paraphrase, from William T. Vollman’s novel Europe Central. It went something like this, “when we believed enough in books to burn them.” That this line came to mind made no sense, except, I guess, b/c I was for a moment aware of history and what we can believe in. (-and, yeah, if you haven’t read Vollman, do so tonight, b/c he can write…in the Gaddis, Pynchon, D.F. Wallace camp of really-heavy-thick-smart-books.)

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2007

Friend, espouser of estranged wisdom, and the guy who taught me to use light, Steckly, has his first website up. I’ve always been fond of his work, especially his use of color and panoramas.

photo: ©Steve Steckly

photo: ©Steve Steckly

photo: ©Steve Steckly

Two noteworthy photographers I was reminded of today while perusing some book stacks: Roger Ballen and Desiree Dolron. Ballen’s Shadow Chambers is unnerving. It works b/c it’s not contrived…well, yeah, the pictures are contrived, sure, but there’s a sincerity (like Arbus but way way darker) in them that escapes the freak-show ruses of so many others, like, let me think, say J.P. Witkin for example. Shadow Chambers gave me the creeps anyway, in this sorta way that made me drop it b/c I didn’t want to know why it hit so solidly home. Then Dolron is doing something wholly different, and even if it isn’t my cup of tea it’s still apparent that she strove for perfection in her “Xteriors” series. I respect that a great deal. Get that gal a W spread already.

photo: from the book Shadow Chambers © Roger Ballen

photo: from the book Shadow Chambers © Roger Ballen

photo: from the book Shadow Chambers © Roger Ballen

photo: © Desiree Dolron

photo: © Desiree Dolron

I’m guessing most of you know of Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. The fashion work they’ve done together over the last few decades has piled up into mounds of ethos that most shooters don’t manage in a lifetime at the top. The only other duo on par would be Mert and Markus…that I can think of anyway. Fashion work aside though, I just found some of the celebrity portraits they’ve shot over the years, mostly for the New York Times I think, and all that I can muster is the word: brilliant.  I mean, ask yourself, when was the last time you saw celebrity work that was as thoughtful as this?

photo: Natalie Portman for the New York Times by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

photo: Charlize Theron for the New York Times by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

photo: Rachel Weisz for the New York Times by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

New York Magazine has an article on hip as hell, Lower East Side artists Dash Snow, Ryan McGinley, and Dan Colen here. It’s more a fun read than anything, but two things came to mind after I finished it.

First, it’s titled Warhol’s Children, which seemed a bit much. Maybe Warhol’s Son In-laws would have been a more appropriate title. An allusion to his direct heir seems worthy of something more, uh, revolutionary, no? I get that Warhol was an extravagant personality in the scene of his day and was fond of Polaroids too, but he also changed the world of art and the function of the artists persona in the commerce of art. He essentially invented the art star. Not to mention his work and the affect it had and is still having. The comparison the writer draws between Nan Goldin and Dash Snow seems much more appropriate I think, still flattering just more reasonable.

Secondly, and this crossed my mind in more of a vague manner, is the mythologies these guys are constructing around themselves, or in laymen terms the endless radical PR campaign they’re partaking in. In a sense it would make them Warhol’s children since they’ve embraced this facet of Warhol’s legacy so perfectly, but that would hardly be an endearing title then. Warhol’s creation of the celebrity artist may have been as much a byproduct of our culture as his own will, or in other words partially accidental in it’s scope, whereas it seems hyper-self-conscious and not at all accidental with these guys. It’s a farce, a brilliant one, a perfected method to madness. I admire it tremendously b/c it seems more important and magnificent to me than there actual work, and what this made me think was: would it be possible to consider the really great work these guys are doing, the work that will be remembered, performance pieces in the way they are living? Where the Polaroids are just a record of this unending performance of acting out as symbols of what has come of art and celebrity in our culture? Right now, I’m not sure or not if I’m serious…but I had to respond in someway to an article on three artists that doesn’t have even one accompanying image of their work yet readily discusses the impressive size of one of there penises…Colen’s in case you’re wondering.

I don’t know much about it at all really. To me McGinley’s work is good, and I suspect he’s disciplined and intent, but other than that I don’t know except that it seems they’re all having fun, which is a great accomplishment in life. Anyway, some of their work…

photo: © Dash Snow

photo: © Dash Snow

photo: © Ryan McGinley

photo: © Ryan McGinley

sculpture by Dan Colen

sign by Dan Colen

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2005

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell, 2006

These are from a series I’ve been casually working on for the last couple of years in Oregon. My original intent was a theme of Oregon Gothic – the South and New England have their versions, and I want the West to have it’s. This theme unintentionally colluded with a theme of people vs nature, specifically revealing natures quiet fortitude, as even in the violence of the shot coyote nature seems to prevail. This conflict, struggle, and erosion are maybe defining terms of the Gothic here.

Do you recognize those times when life is overtly pedagogical, showing you something that you’re going to take with you like it or not, where you’re forced to glean instants into something more? I had around 6 days of this, like a knock back, a gust of wind slowing me, to remind me of what’s what and, well, to remind me there’s much to life. Near epiphanies, not transitory necessarily, but like lapses in a glimpse that doesn’t belong to you in the first place, a gift if you will, as if someone taps you on the shoulder and says, “but, look at this…”

I drank with a man who’d lost so much, more than I could even manage to understand let alone sympathize. I fathomed his soul welling and watched his hands wring in on themselves, wringing and wringing. It was as though his entire universe was a spasm of desolation all of which siphoned through his hands, and leaked from his eyes that pined. Then I walked and talked with poets and painters, kings and dreamers. There were moments of planned triumph and of victories had. Mostly though of hope. Requiems of hope. Walks and talks that inspired inspiration, that inspired a belief in something bigger. Then I watched an addict. Breathed her in, her musky intoxication. Smelt and felt the shell of one who once was. Felt her numbness and partook in the communal anxiety which smothered those around her. All suffered hurt. Then I visited a place full of wonderful memories now saddened…saccharine is the entropy of love. Closure and comprehension are not the same thing, but time passing and life are.

Tap, tap. “But look at this, these things matter.”

photo: ©Graeme Mitchell

Then I was talking with a friend about psychological paralysis were you corner yourself into inaction with the comprehension of every gestures, every sentences, every pictures, every etcs, incompleteness…not a fear of being wrong, but a knowledge that there is no right. A common scenario in modern life, and naturally a problem and impediment. Yet, yet, the little bits life offered me while on holiday disrupted the idea of this paralysis. Jolted it. Then it was a great relief.

Moral being: Taking time off is terribly necessary.

photo: New Years Eve ’06-’07; Tracy, Garett, Benjamin, and I (left to right) at the dbclay studios.

photo: New Years Eve ’06-’07