Saturday, June 2, 2012

A friend likes to tell how his father, when asked to help fix or explain a problem on the farm where he grew up, would always respond, “Just look at it.” Lee generally says something like this when asked how his photographs work or why he made them. And he means it in the same spirit. First, if you don’t figure it out for yourself you will quickly forget what you discover and it won’t be of any use to you. And second, don’t use somebody else’s way of looking or you won’t see anything. To the close observer, Friedlander even builds in safeguards to keep his audience from seeing his way.
I just posted this quote on facebook (even though I dislike facebook more and more everyday) because I especially loved the part that says "don't use somebody else's way of looking or you won't see anything" (which I also pointed out in my post). 
What happened next was the perfect example of why I hate facebook. 
A relative of mine who is being raised suuuuper Christian and suuuper sheltered "like"-ed it. This is someone who (at an age too young to know much of anything about the world, especially considering the world she's living in) posted a while back a long, hideous "letter" to an unborn fetus as a "political" (read: religious conservative) statement for pro-life. Even more than the offense of the letter itself, I was offended that someone of her position felt she had the authority or experience to post something like that but because I remember being young and wanting to be provocative and interesting I simply blocked all of her posts from that point on. I generally don't see activity from her on my posts either and thank god for that because her "like" just annoyed the crap out of me. How in the hell does someone who posts shit like that dare to say that they can relate to seeing with their own eyes?! And then I realized the danger of scary people, they all believe that they've come to these opinions and decisions on their own. They believe themselves to be informed and experienced. 
I have hoped for years, and continue to, that at least one of the children of this family would be incredibly rebellious. Is that evil? I don't wish for anything bad to happen to any of them and I do want them all to be happy, but it would delight me to see just one of them turn up with ideas from outside what they've been told to believe in. It would be equally delightful if one of them grew up to be gay. 
All that venting aside, the original reason I really loved this quote is because I've never liked the part of art where someone tells you that you have to be able to explain why you made it or why you like it. I like this attitude of "Just look at it." If you're not getting anything from it, you're not going to. I very much believe that most great artists make art simply because they felt an urge inside themselves that wanted to be expressed. People don't always know why they feel how they do or why they do what they do. Life is not logical.

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