April 28th, 2018 … Making vs Exhibiting Your Work

….just pulled the lens off of Walker the Fuji X-Pro2. Walker needs a good cleaning and it’s his turn so we do it. Ya know, if I was level headed, I’d put him in the sink and wash him the right way. Thing is, if I did that, my doc would send me to the place where messed up patients go and don’t get out too often.  Oh, sorry I forgot….phone rings…. ringy ringy…I answer. On the other end is a voice I know very well. “Don, I need help, I am in a bad way.”  It’s Suzanne and I tell her we can meet in the morning. She want’s to talk NOW! So, I ask her what’s so pressing. She tells me she got word that she has a major exhibition in Japan in October 2018.  I congratulate her and I hear and feel her tears.  She agrees to meet in the morning. Somehow I feel it’s gonna be a long day.

For those new here, a little bit about Suzanne and our relationship. She’s Japanese. Lives in the USA for over 2 decades.  She is a heart doctor and does surgery and stuff. She has been a stufentof mine for about 7 years. Her friend Polly is an Opthomologist and she also studied with me. Suzanne is a very talented photographer.  Her images are exceptional. She’s a lovely woman and means a lot to me.

Suzanne addresses 2 ways. She calls me don when we are, making photos, doing the gear thing or whatever. When she calls me Mr Don, I know it’s serious and it’s business. We are at her home and sh has about 100 photot on the floor. They are all 7×7 prints. This is not what I was taught but it is what I learned and what I teach. She ask me to edit and sequence the photos. I agree and look the room over and tell her we need to move furniture. After about 15 min, we have a reasonable workspace. I ask Suzanne what is the goal of the exhibition.

She looks at me with kinda vague eyes. It’s a similar look I have when Tanya ask me if I put the trash out. She tells me it’s a body of work about immigration and prejudices she encountered in her life. I tell to sit on the floor with me. I say to her, that is the purpose and intent of the work. It is the driving force behind the thoughts and emotions of your photos. It is not the goal of the exhibition.

The goal of the exhibition is to allow and compell the viewers to explore the thoughts and emotions that drove you to make the photos. A few wrong photos or even misplaced photos and  your left with visual chaos. Take a 50 word paragraph and jiggle the words around. Every word is visible and reads as a word. The issue is that even as the words are all there, the story of the paragraph is incoherent as a whole. The thoughts, emotions are all there as a single word but none and all do not support the story. Everything is fragmented.

She says she kinda gets it. She as me if I’m sure about this. Suzanne, your a Heart Doctor. If something happens to me, I don’t wanna be laying on a table with my chest cut open, and have you thinking…son of a bitch messed up my exhibition. 😇

She laff’d and I felt better, she did to.

I think I need to continue this post in a few days.

Be blessed all………🙏

14 thoughts on “April 28th, 2018 … Making vs Exhibiting Your Work”

    1. Thanks, Dave, it’s the weekend and Tanya has ideas that don’t include me doing the blog.
      To be cont’d…..

    1. Thanks, Frank.
      Crazy as it may sound, when I was younger and more human….Ding would ask me to sequence photos. I mean for exhibitions. Of course we didn’t expect my sequence to be used but it was a great learning experience. One of the other curators would watch me sequence and make comments. What made me proud was that a few very important exhibitions used my sequence. Ding thought my method was very different but extremely effective. It was wonderful for me to have him and the other curator appreciate what I did. So that necame a stamp of approval for my method of maddness.

  1. Hi Don, a wonderful read and I remember Suzanne from a previous blog too I think you guys have s great friendship…t look forward to the following blogs !

  2. Don, this is very interesting and a very important point of distinction you’ve brought up. I appreciate where Suzanne is coming from and the confusion with the academic form of “aims” vs. “objectives”. It’s something that is taught to research students owing to problems in describing study design. The aims (of a study in research terms) are general statements that represent the overall purpose of a piece of work, aspirations and expected findings, what you’re going to do but not specifically how you’re going to do it. The objectives of a study are the specific steps you take, practically and conceptually, to achieve those overall aims. So that’s where she’s coming from and what she will be used to.

    However, as you have suggested for the exhibition the “aim” is her personal journey of experience and the “goal” (let’s call it the objective for the moment) is the wider agenda to which her work contributes or brings attention to and public awareness of though the exhibition. In this case the “objective” is set by someone else. In short it’s kind of the opposite way she will be used to approaching something in a medical research environment.

    So I can appreciate that for her it must seem like a reversal of the process and the confusion of the words and meaning of the words in the English language. Maybe adopt new words to avoid the confusion, perhaps the terms “personal experience” and “wider agenda” might be appropriate. Hope that’s insightful.

    1. Kevin,
      “insightful” yes. I sat here reading your post and finally realized that my reply needs to be in the next post I do which is shortly.

  3. Hey Don, how goes? One of the first comments I had in a photo competition was “If it adds nothing to the picture….include it out!” I try to do that.

  4. Thanks for this post, Don.
    Editing and sequencing is far tougher than shooting. It’s about visual storytelling even when there is no “story” as such. It’s closer to moviemaking than to still photography, in a way. We are often caught, these days, in the trap of single-image platforms (Flickr for me), which un-teach the importance of the sequence in creating atmosphere, feelings, meaning. One good reason to blog more (a short 6-12 image portfolio at a time) and social-post less. And a very good reason to try our hand at zine- (if not quite book-) making…

    PS: pls share a link to whatever Suzanne uses to share her work with the world!

    1. Giovanni, thanks. The question as always is the intent. That’s the deciding factor in everything and also the main reason things start to fall apart. In this case with Suzanne, I wanted to explore more about sequencing. She is a little upset with me because I posted what I did. I understand her and will hold off some from another post continuing the conversation.

      You’re correct about the failing of sequencing due to single post work. I see many that move to exhibitions and maybe I’m old fashioned but they usually look scattered and lost in the woods. It’s a pity because so many have a natural ability for the work but in the end, the presentation fails the intent.
      Namaste my friend

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