Self-doubt can be a bitch. I have been working on my new series for almost a year now, and I have gone in a direction that I don’t fully believe in. I have experimented with narrative images that feature multiple characters, often eight or more people, and I find that they aren’t working yet. The images are extremely dense and staged, and they force a story, rather than suggest one. What’s confusing – as ever – are the disparate comments I am getting from my trusted circle. Some tell me the images that I don’t believe in are actually finally the first great images in the new series. Others like images that I don’t, or dislike the ones that I find aesthetically or conceptually good.
But I know what I want… and they aren’t it yet.
I’m looking back, and I’m trying to reconcile these images with everything that has happened. A year ago I was diagnosed with a crippling cancer and it changed how I perceive the world, what matters to me, and what I want to express artistically. My disdain for religion has not abated, but I have softened on it much the same way I will forgive a toddler for wanting to sleep with a favorite blanket. People need their superstitions, and at first glance there’s no real harm in it… while allowing us grown-ups a good night’s sleep knowing the simple ones have their comfort. Except of course that its bad parenting. At some point you need to ween your child off bad habits, and a child can only learn from parents and the people around it. Because on the larger scale these religious habits add up to cultures that are designed to clash, in their quest for growth they become the cause of war and death, and its lords rule as bullies who try to marshal their herds into separate pens.
My fascination remains with the Feminine. Our One-God religions fight to the death over who has the right form of worship of a very patriarchal God, while the Goddess has been entirely scrubbed from the culture. In 9th grade we all learned to quote Marx, we know that religion is the opiate of the masses. Drug addicts will come up with a hundred things that would make their life better. “if only I had a good job, if only she loved me, if only my parents had been nicer…” but the one thing that never crosses their mind to quit is the drug itself. Our monotheist cultures never stop to question the endless duality – Good vs. Evil, God vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, and so on – to realize that we need to quit the teenage-boy God, that we are missing the Feminine.
So I am stepping back a bit and will focus on very simple images. Sometimes a visual-conceptual cleanse is necessary to clear the creative palate. Here’s a test image that I shot on Thursday. I like the light and the pose, but I want a few more elements in the image to give it some visual texture. It’s too simple right now, but I like that it is less narrative. I will reshoot this, the same emotion but a little more set to give the eye something to complement the main element.