A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Objectivity - A Subjective Invention Of Man
Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Molly Parker & Lynne Stopkewich

Sometime in the early 70s I atended a lecture in Mexico City by Spanish/Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés. He had been part of Thor Heyerdahl’s Ra I and Ra II expeditions across the Atlantic. The lecture was interesting but most of all I will never forget a statement that Genovés made about the futility of historical objectivity by historians during and after historical events. Genovés said, “We must not forget that objectivity is a subjective invention by man.

I watch CNN and MSNBC and read my daily NY Times and Vancouver Sun always with that Genovés dictum in my mind.

But if you take the statement to a limit you cannot even agree with any one other person if you both agree that a shade of red is exactly the same between the two different pair of eyes.


My mother often told me, “Alex, you will never understand because you will never be a mother.” And yet she could not understand my deep demonstrative love to a scary alcoholic father (he was always sweet to me). It was only after my mother died in the early 70s that it occurred to me that I had never thought to tell her, “Mother you will never understand because you will never be a father.”
But Plato and other philosophers postulated of pure ideals, essences that had numerous material shadows of those essences in our human world, one that became a sphere after centuries of having been flat.

I believe that one of the few aspects of our material world that depends on that Platonic idea of an essence is the idea of pure art. I don’t buy statements that “anything can be art” or “it is art if I say its art.” I believe that somewhere inside of us lives an idea of that essence that is art.
As an old fashioned and obsolete (redundant, too) human from the past century I avoid art exhibitions that mention the word installation.

I remember and cringe a show at Emily Carr Institute of Art (as it was called then) that featured in its lobby a full-scale replica of a doctor’s waiting room complete with a stack of boring magazines. Could I buy such an installation and hang it in my living room?

I also don’t buy anything (and I mean anything by) that nude sartorial artist pair Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude.

I keep most of the ideas above to myself and I don’t rant about what is art and what isn’t.

It is far more fun and better to use up one’s time attempting to figure out what is in other people’s heads.


As an only child I never had brothers or sisters (until I discovered I had a half brother at a Buenos Aires police Station in 1966). I only had one grandparent, my grandmother and I enjoyed having a father for a scarce and sparse 10 years of which the first few disappeared in my baby memory.

I have two daughters. One of them has two daughters. My wife has a sister. I often wonder about the relationship these people, dear to me have for each other. How do you talk to your sister be it my wife, my daughters or my granddaughters?  Is there anything I could learn from that sort of relationship? What am I missing out on?

Proof that my interest in these matters can have a fruitful result happened some years ago after I photographed actress (I am old-fashioned and like using that word as well as aviatrix and dominatrix) Molly Parker and a director (Parker made two films with her) Lynne Stopkewich. I noticed that they seemed to have a special relationship based on the friendship between the two women they were (and of course my mother would have added, “Alex, you will never understand because…”. I asked them to come to my studio and that I would attempt to capture (and a pre-digital use of that digital term is appropriate here) that relationship.

We tried everything and nothing worked. I gave them a rest. During the break they did something. I told them not to move and shot a Polaroid. It was perfect. We all agreed. I then proceeded to repeat that very shot with b+w film and with transparency (slide) film.

I cannot explain nor begin to understand what these two women were able to share by the fact that they were women and friends. But I can ascertain that my photographs do reveal a bit of that. And I can say with some certainty that I am being objective.

Boot camp instincts  
The metamorphosis of death and Kissed 



     

Previous Posts
Style

Cain's Stone - La piedra de Caín

With Obama, the Personal is Presidential

Photography - The Limited Range of Our Memory

Exclusive as a Mailbox

The Viola da Gamba

But Sequence Ravelled Out of Reach

Only Butter is Butter

Hypertext Borges & Hopscotching Down the Banister

Lauren Graduates - Lauren Gardens



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6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16