Tuesday, July 1, 2008

photopoetics: nothing was ever what it claimed to be

last week i wrote a bit about photography's relationship (as an art form) to writing and literature. it often occurs to me that a photograph can be more kin to a poem than to a painting.

one photographer who calls this to my mind is Rinko Kawauchi. she's probably one of the more famous Japanese fine art photographers; i admire her work but sometimes find the images a bit impenetrable—in a good way.

for some reason, i thought of Kawauchi when i read this sonnet, from poet Karen Volkman's new book Nomina:

Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,
the earth, blue egg, in its seeping shell
dispensing damage like a hollow hell
inchling weeping for a minor sea

ticking its tidelets, x and y and z.
The blue beneficence we call and spell
and call blue heaven, the whiteblue well
of constant water, deepening a thee,

a thou and who, touching every what—
and in the or, a shudder in the cut—
and that you are, blue mirror, only stare

bluest blankness, whether in the where,
sheen that bleeds blue beauty we are taught
drowns and booms and vowels. I will not.

-Karen Volkman

Kawauchi's photos often have a cool, blurred, blue tone that i thought matched up well. not to mention a sense that they might not be what they claim to be.

(i think it would be fun to do more photo / literary pairings like this.)

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