Untitled (The Red Room), by William Eggleston is probably my favorite image of all time. Eggleston was an artist who worked outside the artistically accepted medium of the time, (black and white photography) and instead chose to work in color, a medium reserved for commercial work. What I find most powerful about The Red Room is the sense of menace that emanates from the picture. I first saw it at the William Eggleston exhibition in the Corcoran, and to view it on a computer screen really does not do it justice.
McLean, Virginia by Joel Sternfeld is an image that continually manages to stun me. What might not be apparent from first viewing is that Sternfeld uses an 8 x 10 camera, a camera that takes upwards of 5 minutes to set up and focus. It is large and unwieldy, and yet somehow Sternfeld manages to take a perfect snapshot-esque picture. This is also a direct inspiration for me, because I am currently trying to work in large format color photography. However as I am finding out, the money factor practically discourages people from taking photographs like this.
The first photograph I chose for my Place as Self is Steer, Slaughterhouse, Amarillo, by Richard Avedon, from his book In the American West. I first took notice of this image about 2 years ago when my photography teacher left out the book and I was scanning through it. To put it simply this image stayed with me because it was way hardcore. I’m definitely drawn to things that explore themes of death.
The next source I chose is the visual aesthetic of the band Salem. Although they could hardly be considered influential aurally, the way they present themselves, and their image, is something numerous bands have hijacked. Salem combines disparate elements of black metal, hip hop, and white trash culture to come up with something entirely new. In a way Salem is a post-modern reinterpretation of the goth culture that first arose with bands like Joy Division and The Cure. Salem is quite similar to Steer by Avedon in that their aesthetic is formulated around the various concepts of death.
Another picture that I chose as a source for my Place as Self project is the Market Woman of Rissani, by Irving Penn. In a way this picture ties back to Salem and Steer by Avedon, in that it’s an exploration of darker themes. To me the women appear as a trio of shades, emulating the fates of Greek mythos. Irving Penn’s style of strict formalism has appealed to me, ever since my aunt gave my sister a book of fashion photography. Like a child sneaking candy, I would take the book from my sister’s room and gaze at the pictures taken by Avedon and Penn, and admire their strict still-lives.