The Tension of Paradox

Jessica (Belmond police officer)  © Kristine Heykants 2018

Jessica (Belmond police officer) © Kristine Heykants 2018

Often I choose a project because I feel a need to explore conflicting feelings on a subject. Through photography I am able to examine many points of view, in part to satisfy my curiosity, in part to educate myself, in part to participate in a lived experience. What results typically leaves me with more diametrically opposing facts than when I started. This is certainly true of Uprooted, where my research in Belmond has permitted me to tell a more nuanced story of life in the rural Midwest . 

I find comfort and inspiration in seeing how other artists wrestle with paradox. While on summer vacation in New Mexico recently, I jumped at the chance to see a survey of work by the late Patrick Nagatani, showing at the New Mexico Museum of Art . He is known for his tongue-in-cheek treatment of serious subjects like the effects of development and deployment of nuclear weapons on humans and the environment. I was especially taken with Great Yellow Father, a picture he made in collaboration with painter Andrée Tracey. We see Nagatani himself taking a picture of flying Koi who are ostensibly jumping out of the tainted yellow river, while he is dressed in a Kodak T-shirt and baseball cap, with a dark Kodak factory off in the distance. It seems The Great Yellow Father (as Kodak is commonly called among photographers) is referring to our complicity in pollution, while pointing out the absurdity and privilege of photography as a leisurely pastime.

If you happen to be in Santa Fe, Patrick Nagatani: Invented Realities is on view until September 9, 2018.