I nearly titled this post: Influences #1: Josef Sudek. But when I went to choose some of his images to illustrate my meaning I realised ‘influence’ wasn’t the correct word. I had already been making still lifes of ordinary domestic objects, and views through windows and other transparent, reflective, and distorting entities when I first saw his work. So he can’t really be said to be an influence, he’s more like a mentor. By making the choices he did he validates my own, helps me see how to make the photographs I want to, and inspires me to not be overly diverted from my theme.
Before seeing Sudek’s photographs
I worried that my focus on the domestic was of no interest to anyone but me. Although I didn’t really mind if most people thought my work was rubbish, I did, and do, mind making no connections whatsoever. At heart I’m a philosopher who is trying to get to grips with the question of (universal) eudaimonia. My art, both visual and text based (mostly fiction writing, but some poetry) is a way of exploring this, and I need a little interaction. My work is a call to others who also want to solve this problem, it needs a response.
Sudek showed me that response was possible
There are people out there interested in a different kind of narrative, who understand we can’t know everything, and luxuriate in that. People who enjoy the questions.* People who accept their view is flawed because it’s not, and can never be, every view, and perfect clarity is rarely, if ever, achievable. People who can hold two apparently opposing views at once and not feel they have to defend that, who can accept both that they may be wrong, and that they just haven’t seen the connections yet. People who are open to the idea that domesticity is no less important than commerce, business, politics and warmongering.
Here are some of my favourite Sudek photographs (for further thoughts, should you want them, you can click on individual images):
I feel quite comfortable about what I have chosen to photograph over the years, and unconcerned that my images are less than National Geographic sharp. Here are some shots I have worried are laughable:
While I realise my stuff doesn’t come close to the brilliance of Sudek’s, I feel all I need do is keep working at it, and happy to continue.
*As Rilke entreated his young poet to do.