7 September – 20 October: An Iconography of Chance: 50 Photographs of the Evanescent South by Tav Falvo (photographs)
50 PHOTOGRAPHS: An Iconography Of Chance is a psycho-iconography of the gothic South in pictures with captioned intertext of the urban specters, rural fables and visual clichés that h
Manifesto:Photographing in the South
Aside from the soul and eccentricity of its people, the numinous quality of light found in the American South affords a photograph exceptionally heightened distinction. From the white-hot tombstone light of New Orleans to the sub-tropical glow of the Aztec sun that shines up river over Memphis, the most favorable light comes in August. In this month foliage grows wild and abandoned and the atmosphere becomes dense with the palpable haze of infinite pinpoints of moisture mixed with particles of golden dust. Thus, a luminous mantel of golden light falls around the shoulders of man and object.
It is no surprise that Walker Evans chose to photograph exteriors only during a temporal window of 5 to 8 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon when the angular slant of the sun comes closest to creating perfection in depth and length of shadows and luminosity in highlights. Whether the noble light of the sun or that light created by other natural or man-made occurrence, what we see depends on this radiation of photons. Otherwise the natural state of things is darkness. Illumination of darkness is the only perfection.
Yet our attempts to perceive and to capture what the eye sees and deciphers out of darkness is hardly perfect. In taking pictures I would not strive for perfection or for the perfect shot. Although I intend to make an interesting picture and to do that I must learn well how to use the camera, still I cultivate a sense of abandon in taking pictures and a certain contempt for the photographic instrument. I photograph blindly without an eye, so that I might see. To capture the unseen, to capture that which cannot be described, that which cannot be known is the prize.
Do not though give prizes for the outstanding photograph or series of photographs. Such an award is meaningless.I would not want one, for the photograph itself is already the prize. Some photographs are influential; some are simply forgettable. A photograph can launch a thousand ships, it is said. A photograph can be more powerful than words. Today we are bombarded with torrents of images and words, yet only a few are infused with the power and mystery that alter the minds of men.
What meaning, what beauty do these influential pictures possess? Is it truth? No, not truth. For a picture can lie. But a photograph is a perfect rendering of reality, isn’t it? Forensic evidence. Yes, but a photograph can be manipulated. The art of concealment is often practiced in making a photograph. A photograph is a lie. A lie in that it is a mirror reflection of what exists. A simulacrum of that which we find beautiful, or ugly, or touching, or arousing. But in this reflection lies a secret intelligence hidden in the silver salts of the photograph. Here lies the truth in the lie that moves us, that alters our minds.
When embracing a photograph, I am not after bourgeois realism. I am after the secret that dwells hidden there. A painting can express something of the imagination that is impossible for the apparatus of the camera. While the camera captures only a reflection, a painting can depict pure imagination. Yet both photograph and painting are inflected with signs and pictorial language that can express deeper, subliminal meaning. It is an expression of delirium that I am after. I seek the Orphic mysteries, in the fertile moist darkness of the underground. I see Orpheus appear within a black and white photograph of a cemetery in Natchez at dawn. He is larger than FATE. I am delirious. In the words of Blanche Dubois. “I’ll tell you what I want. Magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misinterpret things to them. I don’t tell the truth. I tell what ought to be truth.”
Tav Falco, Vienna 2018