Once you know you have food, shelter and a fair chance of not being shot at by militants (either voted in or not) you have the luxury to climb further up Maslow’s pile of rubble and check out the view. That would be you and I, standing there, because lets face it, I have the time and resources to be writing this crap and you have the equal luxury to read it.
Whilst granting it as a privilege, the question of who is that ? (who am I?) is pretty important, and having the time to pause on it, I have to say it’s pretty bloody hard to answer. I have been searching for the right response in a cardboard box of black and white photographs recently. I haven’t found it, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that is because photographs capture images, not identities. And then my question is why don’t photographs tell you who you are? They lay clues for sure. But they only help jog your memory. And only if they are the right photographs. This month I have stared at many wrong ones. Take this image, for example:
I have no idea who these people are. My Dad was a photographer, and this is one of the thousands of images he has kept. It could be his first friend in Australia, Brian Rycroft, marrying his sweetheart Shirley (they are still together, by the way). But having never seen Brian, I could be wrong. It could be a stranger, who paid Dad to photograph his engagement. Or birthday or something. And then this one:
Nope, no idea who this is either. Did she have children? did she leave her husband for a woman? is she alive and is she well? was life a struggle? who gave her the horseshoe? I have found photographs of people I do know, including photographs of me. I must say though, that I look upon them in much the same way, with the same questioning curiosity. They look like photographs of someone that I might have been, had I grown up to be me. Sounds deep and a little fucked up, yeah? It is. I am. Just a little. But at least I am looking. I dare you to open that box of photographs one Saturday, with the rain falling outside, and the dog sleeping on her mat. You’d be surprised how foreign you can seem, in black and white.