Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Art Appreciation: suicide, guns, smoking, etc.

A lot of the photographs that I create are edgy, dark, or morbid. They deal with topics that we as a society are used to avoiding or hushing up. Suicide is one of my favorite topics, not because I (or my models) have any suicidal tendencies, but because it is a very real issue for a lot of people. Some of my strongest memories from middle school involve people attempting suicide.

I never really knew why people refused to talk about it, so I guess taking pictures that clearly depict suicide is my way of forcing the topic to the surface. My goal as an artist is not to give you happy, cute, comfortable images, but rather to elicit emotional responses to my imagery. With this particular type of photograph I could care less if you are comfortable viewing it. I want to engage you with the photo. I want you to stop and think about it. I want you to care about the subject, the topic, the fact that suicide, though unpleasant, is a topic that people of all ages deal with.

A partially parallel topic is guns. I find that a lot of people like to pretend guns don't exist, while others see them as another tool, just like a knife or a bottle opener - part of everyday life. The fact is that guns exist. They can be used for good, for evil, for homicide and suicide alike. 

Another of my favorite topics is smoking. Not as intense as suicide by a long shot, but still a topic that I find fascinating. In the US we are constantly pushing for more legislation restricting smoking - we educate (as I think we should) kids from a young age to tell them that smoking is bad. Because of this negative association, many of the photographs I take that involve smoke are dark, contrasty and decidedly negative-feeling.
 In contrast, many cultures throughout the world use smoking as the social activity, much like the british and their tea. When you meet someone in India and you want to get to know them,  you might share a shisha and talk. This cultural contrast is something I find endlessly fascinating. 

The goal of this post? To inform you as viewers what the art community expects of you.
When you see a photograph you disagree with - that you think is distasteful or morbid - stop and think about what influences your opinions. Take a moment to consider WHY you find that image so offensive... chances are the artist finds it equally as offensive as you do - otherwise he or she wouldn't bother showing you!

This post also serves as a warning: some of the content on this blog is Not Safe For Work - containing partial nudity and sensitive topics like suicide. If you find the images distasteful, by all means drop me a comment and let me know - but tell my WHY you think that - and consider the possibility that I agree with you.