The whole “self-contained” thing is a work in progress. I truly believed when I returned home from Los Angeles last October, I was better equipped mentally for my return to Toledo. It’s been a grind though. Taking pics, promoting events, dabbling politically, hanging with friends – anything to be busy and productive. I came home because my dad is sick (on top of my father being sick, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia on Christmas). It was the only choice I felt I could make, and I left a lot back in Los Angeles to make it. Something Andi wrote back then touched me and helped to reaffirm the decision I made:
But Toledo hasn’t been kind. It seems folks built up their own little fiefdoms while I was gone. My return has been met by outright attack from a few folks, and the attacks have continued to this day. In an incredibly insular community like model photography, this has been disruptive. I won’t lie. It hurts. I’m just trying to book shoots, do my thing and create something that will last. My trust in people right now is probably at the lowest point it’s ever been. My friendship with Andi has been the one constant. My restraint over the past five months has surprised even me when it comes to my lack of a response to the garbage being thrown at me. I try to remind myself that I’ve been an active photographer since 2002 and created a scene folks have enjoyed for the most part since 2005. I’ve done my best to help some people along the way. I’ve had ugly moments too, misunderstandings and total breakdowns in communications with others. I drop the ball on occasion. Still, I always strive to never be deliberately hurtful to others. I think this is what infuriates me the most. It seems that with much of the younger set, cultivating a “total asshole” persona is some kind of badge of honor. I’m not going to try to fight such a mindset. It’s a zero sum game. I’ll continue to do what I do, avoid the explosive encounters and circumnavigate folks who derive their entertainment at the expense of others. There’s some growth I can believe in.
Archive fever continued. An older poem:
You speak to me as a sister, though I am no relation
Trapped in this prison of flesh
Wanting to cower and hide, a traitor to my own kind
You know me better than I
I am like a wound, taking all the pain within
No aim, no direction, no logocentric lie
I am a repository for something new
And I know not what, just the pain of my own abasement
The body blows I hide so well
Degenerative damage only known to me
And you say, “Here is the enigma
For softness is born of strength”
An enigma for sure, for where is the strength?
I only know the softness, the timidity
The overwhelming fear of not being loved
Who is to be born?
She says, You and I are born
For if you truly look, you see
If you truly touch, you are touched
And so see her as she truly is
My voice is compelled by her beauty
In the face of the sublime I cry
Feelings of tension and release as I am seduced
The receptacle, the repository, bursts
I am emptied out, destroyed, reborn
As I desire to complete her, so I complete myself
I have been recast in her role
My voice resounds, for I am beautiful!
Those idols of the cave are finally lost to me
I am one with my beginning, carnal and thunderous
Yet pure and proud, subtle and instinctive
I need not approximate, penetrate, capture
I stand apart, yet it is us or nothing
There is no genesis or apocalypse without me
Let it fall, let the invisible barriers be annulled
For I am ready . . .
And yet there is still the enigma
For there is always the tempest
I am not indifferent to her suffering
Her lack, her want, her need
You must be common in your appearance
No need for adornment, for the play set to begin
She must be less kept, ripe and heavy for the ritual
A formless beauty for my brutal vision
My automatons do my bidding
Handsome and desirable, unthinking and unwavering in loyalty
A cold, brutal plan without pathos
Let her be gagged and silenced
No hint of sympathy to fall on uncaring ears
There can be no capitulation, no charm to save her
She is a woman in every sense
Free of ignorance, secure in herself and who she is
Overpowered by all too human automatons
Nameless and faceless in commonality
Yet I alone have the key
For I am ready . . .
She is ripe for the slaughter
As I am vacant, emptied out, filled with ice and fire
Gagged, a cloth crushes her tongue
She is perfect in her fury and humiliation
Full and lethargic, divided and pregnant
Taken by one of my own, eager in his service
She is divided and at my mercy, completely vulnerable
Her pathetic state moves me
Can she sense my desire, my need for appropriation?
How I adore her, need her
She must be treated nobly
For her secret, her mystery, will be torn from her alive
And there is the enigma
That softness is born from strength
To know the flattering, you must know the destructive
The desire for the origin, the torture, the annihilation
The need for abasement and possession
To not censor but to understand
To be newly born.
Raw and Wriggling . . . The Virtue of Selfishness . . . Beautiful Lies . . . “365” Day 1
Are you in love with the “pretty pretty,” the cracked out color and the school of “I’m superior because I’m a Photoshop hack”? Well, suburban youth must be served, and it’s all the rage with them. Didn’t you know? I’ve been on the periphery of this debate before, remembering the fawning of folks over oversaturated soft focus imagery. The addiction came and went. Now we have HDR crack, Lightroom and scads of new presets for the “compositionally” challenged. If this works for you and your vapid subjects, well good on you. I suppose everyone has to get their self-esteem boosts somehow. Still, don’t let your love for the newest hip thing lead you to denigrate the work of artists who get composition, the rule of thirds, focal points and whatnot. Such a position makes you like a child . . . wait . . . most of you are children. I err when I become enamored with your vision and forsake my own. The new mantra should be, “Don’t even think about using that brush, Boyd.” I cheapen my vision when I don’t hold true to it. My vision is at the edge of a focal point – show me what’s on the inside, raw and wriggling. I am enamored with the honesty of the work of photographers like Geoff Cordner, Richard Kern, Eric Kroll, James Graham and Melvin Moten Jr. There is something to be said about the honesty of simplicity.
But, let us return to the “pretty pretty.” I can put myself in the shoes of the model who wants “pretty” pictures that are about beauty. Contrast this with the vision I call my own. I’ve done “pretty.” I’m pretty much done with “pretty.” I’ve been doing this long enough to know what I want and unless you are paying my rent, what I want holds sway. I’ll shoot your vision, but mine has to be shot as well. The artist doesn’t shoot just for the sake of shooting. The artist shoots to bring their vision to life. Call it “the virtue of selfishness” if you would. My models don’t have to be models. They have to convey a depth though that communicates to me and my audience. I have been through the phases of shooting pretty portfolio work, portraits, art nudes, and editorial nudes. All of these phases have led me here, a zeitgeist in the here and now. The world is not a pretty place and humanity is not pretty. I will not tell “the beautiful lie.”
I diverge from Oscar Wilde’s path: “ . . . Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.” Enough with artifice and dishonesty. I’m reminded of the girl who while she acknowledges her friend has been slurred by another beyond the pale, she can’t support him because the other has bought her friendship. She’s afraid she’ll lose something by doing the right thing. This is humanity in this day and age. More and more, my art needs to reflect this. There is only human frailty. I had two artists I respect completely tell me today that I need to take my camera to the streets to capture the truth. There is where the honesty is. Art should provoke, not lie.
Here’s a start. I jumped on the bandwagon of the “365 Project,” because the human face and eyes will always reflect the truth you need. Here are a few outtakes from day one. I'll even indulge with a few self-portraits several times a week.
A world of insomniacs have deadened the muse
The idol of the marketplace fixes us in its unholy worship
The silence of spirit covers the landscape
Devastated, we can only look through carnal eyes
The eyes of spirit lost focus long ago
What happened to the invisible - the inaudible
Another world within our own?
To this wondrous testament of seeing and believing?
To dream is to sleep
To sleep is to dream
And when we dream we embrace the specters of imagination
We hold court and love
Intercourse with the unimaginable
We feel the erotic cascade, the sensation most dear
And then we believe.
Ceremony and representation, yet so much more
We thinking animals think in metaphors
Our greatest gift
To designate something so fundamental, so basic
A rhyme, an opposition - a reality beyond
There is sex with your violence
A horror indifferent to life
It will hover above the abyss, annul all meaning
Come raining down with fire to transform those who dare believe
The fire that begins with the senses and returns to free them
No pleasure without pain
No crime, no art, no pain, no joy
Imagination prefigures all
But you must believe and you must sing
For the most sacred ceremony.
It is center and pivot like a mad, rambling god
Dispensing epiphanies, perversions, and conclusions from its dark pool
A maelstrom of passions quite often unknowable
It is plural, ever expanding with no geometric logics
Borrowing from location and setting
Society and history - the individual temperament
Opportunity begets chance and the capture of a moment
Ignore the classes and hierarchies to stir the imagination
Be the lightning rod for that primordial power
That drives to new addictions, false passions, and slavery
Will yourself to sleep, to dream some more
To free your heart, your intellect and mind
For to dream is to see with live eyes
To believe again.
Something I wrote back in 2005. Still struggling with the paralysis.
We are always attempting to find a way out of that 'originary darkness.' The claim is always that we are learning from the mistakes of the past and that the dominant paradigm we embrace is somehow 'forward' thinking. We speak of the past as something we can learn from. It's either a mistake not to be repeated or an achievement to be honored. And yet we forget that every movement in this discipline of thinking is one cycle built upon another, mistake upon mistake or achievement upon achievement. It really does depend upon your interpretation. For instance, I posit that philosophy in America has always been pretty much a bastardization. Not philosophy. Not really. Rather, while continental (European) thought operates as impetus, pretext, or guide, American 'philosophy' functions as accomplice. It's either adversarial thought assimilated by a system or thought created by said system in the form of state propaganda. To be fair to American thought, philosophy has been cheaply utilized by other states in times gone by. It's just that never has philosophical discourse ever been so overwhelmed and ultimately silenced in this modern age. The task of thinking requires a response to September 11, 2001. One could say that this has occurred everywhere except in the United States. In the United States, all discourse has acted as reaction rather than thought. There has been no 'moving beyond.' The impulse has been a Messianic urge to make the world safe for democracy and in all actuality Capitalism. We regard Capitalism as a permeating structure in the same vein as structures of the unconscious, the church, history, and language. The philosophical task from the 1960's through the 1990's was to break into small camps and argue the weight and impact of these various structures. The complaint being of course that these varying camps were all theory and no praxis, that the only thing being glorified was process. Brief language was paid to beginnings, real beginnings that is. When utilized, the language was utilized to say, "We're all acted upon, so while we try to think our way out this box, we may as well play." Unfortunately, such playfulness is no match for a fundamentalist movement's will-to-power or a state's Messianic urge. So, I beg to ask the question of "where do we go from here?" I would say we go to the beginning. When I say 'the beginning', I'm speaking of the real beginning . . . the source. I'm speaking of sex. I'm speaking of woman. Of course the mainstream response would be that this approach cheapens the discourse. I won't even get into this, mainly because mainstream thought is by nature sexphobic and hostile to woman. And my personal rationalization is that I've always been driven by my fascination with society's and my own conception of femininity. I'm a photographer of 'beautiful' women. My art screams that I do more, say more. The hovering beauty with nothing to say isn't enough. If there was to be a catchphrase for this, it would be: " . . . because beauty has something to say." Then, of course, there is the personal motto I list on my web portfolio: "I'm the writer who became a photographer to better tell a story." I peruse a lengthy list of my journals (some I'll be utilizing here) and it saddens me to say there hasn't been much written since the first half of 1992. September 11, 2001 and the following 3 1/2 years paralyzed me more than I'd like to admit. The last 3 1/2 years have been about a clueless, ineffectual praxis. So, here we go, to the beginning. It is, after all, what Martin Heidegger writes: "Perhaps philosophy shows most forcibly and persistently how much Man is a beginner. Philosiphizing means nothing other than being a beginner."