First photo of me at about 18 or 20 months of age must have been snapped by my mother: an early summer day becoming evening, crocheted bonnet over my shank of mousy hair, a cotton dress, shadows. The second photo was taken recently as part of an experimental shoot with Ottawa photographer, Julie Laurin. She had me put nylon over my head, tying the four ends with rope to pipes in her underground garage. When I strained against the ropes, the nylon tightened and these horrified, twisted visages resulted. What I find compelling is that in the first photo, something in my features already expresses this knowledge. Or is this just a reading into the face performed later through my now-awareness of death, loss, tragedy.
Roland Barthes would say it was the latter as: “What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.”
-Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
I should feel relief at this I guess. The photo can truly not be repeated at its existential depths and so the art of the face is this momentary, the angst a fixing of light, substance, texture, not circumstance or history. Though I like the thought of this too, an early writing of nostalgic comprehension. When juxtaposed, these two pictures say to me, “I ask. I undertake. I try not to be paralyzed by fear.”