Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Max Gerber : My Heart Vs. The Real World

























Max Gerber's book "My Heart Vs. The Real World" has been in the works for years now. I was fortunate to see some of the images mocked up in a book format a few years back and though I was attracted to the images, I was less thrilled with the subject matter, fearing that it could easily fall into Life Magazine/ People Magazine territory: sick kids. We've all seen this story a trillion times, so why again? Why now?

When I got my hands on the book last week I was leafing thru it, a superfast 30 second view of the book and got stopped on the image of Max in the mirror with the 2 kids. I've taken this shot a million times of myself, but this one carries an emotional wallop. What is up? I started over and put the time into the book.

Woven into this book is Max's story. He is in the book, in words and pictures, telling his story of being a kid, like the kids in the book, growing up with heart disease. He tells us, his parents tell us, about his childhood with words and pictures and then gets into the stories of the kids in the book.





After reading Gerber's chapter on himself, one can't really look at the images of the kids the same. At it's best it seems like he is channelling the kids, finding aspects of himself in each kid to focus in on, which gives the photographs this kind of psychic power. When Gerber photographs a bunch of boys ripping open a present at a birthday party, it just seems to transcend the subject matter into a picture about wanting to have a normal life with small normal thrills.
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The photographer isn't really just connecting with his subjects in this book, it seems like he is trying to figure something out thru them... and we are just here witnessing it all. By the time you get to the end of the book and see the shot of Gerber photographing himself in the mirror with two of the kids, the book kind of hits this emotional crescendo and you see what this is about. MG is using photography to understand his own life, thru these kids. The book was a document of this kind of personal fact-finding mission.

In case you are wondering...of course he is a bud of mine. But that doesn't mean this stuff is not all true. Learn more about it HERE. Buy it HERE.
all photographs by Max Gerber

95 comments:

W.L.B. said...

"MG is using photography to understand his own life, thru these kids."
I agree. On some level, I think this is simply human nature, though. Whether your form of seeking comes in writing, painting, photography, etc., I think we all seek to understand ourselves and our own lives-- and subsequently, our place in this world-- through attempting to make sense of the external. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think in some ways, this sums up your project with your son. Not only are you seeking to understand your own son and his quirks through photographic documentation, but also perhaps how your own role as father, and how who you are, plays into that. How much of your own identity is due to having the title of "father" attached to it? Who would you be without your son?

How would your project be different if you were an uncle, or brother, rather than his father? Would you see things from a more objective point of view? Would you miss more of the little things? I don't know.

But maybe the reason you are so drawn to your friend's book/work, is because you are both-- to some degree-- seeking the same sort of answers or direction. You see in his work the emotions you capture in your own work. You mentioned his book as a "kind of personal fact-finding mission." I think this is your mission as well, at least partly.

You wrote, "The photographer isn't really just connecting with his subjects in this book, it seems like he is trying to figure something out thru them... and we are just here witnessing it all."

If my own thoughts in following your work and your son's project can be summed up into one statement, this would be it.

My apologies if I've wrongly assumed anything, and for the randomness of this post.

But I'm kinda like that sometimes.
:)

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