Sunday, October 26, 2008

Q + A With Myself Again

Q: So I was looking at this Echolilia thing you are doing. Do you have a moment?m
TA: Yes, sure.
Q: On a bad day it kind of reminds me of the guy William Wegman, you know, with the dogs? It's like he trained these dogs to get into all of these positions for him to photograph, and it's like the training that is the big accomplishment, almost more than the photography. Here you have your son with his face in a funnel. You have him looking fetal in a plastic container. Then this cardboard tube on the arm shot. Is your project trying to be like this Wegman thing?
TA: Oh, I dunno, that doesn't sound good. I guess I see my son do something that looks interesting to me, that might have two meanings or something, and then I try to set aside time and energy with him to make a photograph together that shows that gesture, but in a more intentional location. A place that looks poetic, good light, foggy day, that type of thing.
Q: Any response to the work?
TA: Yeah, kind of. The other day I got a note from an art director who needed to contact me for some invoice question. She had never seen any of my work before. She dealt with business and then really focused in on that Echolilia project right away: it spoke to her in some way, thats all she could really say. I thanked her, then got a note back from her explaining that she had a son and her son was on the autistic spectrum. I couldn't figure out if there was something she was responding to in the work that spoke to that shared experience, did my kid remind her of hers? These days I'm trying to present the work without too much information and see what people make of it.
Q: Anything else?
TA: Then there is this other photographer who shared his work with me. He has an older son he had been photographing over the years. He photographed the boy when he was really young, and then a number of objects that related to him and the similarities between our two projects were pretty great I thought. I wanted to write about his work and he wrote a polite note back stating : " Your project is evolving in the shadow of a commercial photography blog and is being used as a tool that is pushing this commercial career. My son isn't a project, he is my little beloved boy and it's important that I protect him". That gave me something to think about.
Q: Did it make you question your motives here?
TA: It made me think about them. The one thing I return to is that it really is hard to make my son do something he might not want to brush his teeth or something. But with these photographs he seems to summon up complete concentration, a very intense work ethic and collaboration above and beyond his years. Even if it lasts just 10 minutes.
Q: Why do you think he can do it so well?
TA: I think he knows we really need to make these pictures. This stuff is important to work thru and he knows we're not goofing around.


Rob Prideaux said...

You are not goofing around and you don't need to sequester your son to protect him. You are not exploiting him to gain attention for your art (commercial or otherwise), you are putting your photography to work.

Anonymous said...

The father/son, parent/child project is common. The combination of emotions, and ready access to these subjects, is appealing. From my perspective the beauty of this body of work is not the project, but the unique images created around such a common subject. (I think that can be described as talent.) Exploiting our children? Please, what a wonderful excuse to spend some time with your child and create something beautiful. Rock on. (Insert photo of action figure fist here)

Timothy Archibald said...

I dunno, I think all of it is true, really.

Jacques Barbey said...

Mr Archibald- been an admirer of work since your days at New Times here in Phoenix, ur site and here with ur blog are a bookmarked favorite ...and now this-te contents of this Q and A and the pic there of your son resonates on many levels.

I too am a parent of a beautiful boy who to many, is well outside the range of "normal". My boy is exceptional for he has that extra chromosome that is categorized as Down Syndrome. He is breathtaking and at the age of two --he is stunning. I too am also a commercial photographer and like you a former photojournalist... a profession that , as u so rightly know, in the doing one soon becomes highly attuned to the salient nuances of editorial gravity, and the boundries of the kind so often associated with the mere mention of the labels of special needs.

Knowing this and not conceding to irony I can empathize with the range of content you touched upon there in your QnA. i for one, applaud your work with your son. Even more so i will add that i think its pioneering... not so much for the fact that its all about your son but for the reason that the images are also about a father who truly sees his son-really sees him and the presence he leaves behind -be it written trace or there by broken twig.
When i do find time to come to ur blog to revisit these gems that you and your son are creating together i always say Yes and am so inspired because of it. Thats what good work does and to that a big THANK YOU is in store. So quell any cognitive dissonance that the means is exploitive, for in your pictures amidst the edges of each frame i discern that charity resides, the best of kind - that of a father who cares and will not give up, nor answers the rogue thoughts of giving in- and who in dealing with that tension which arises in the best of us has for himself evinced away of seeing that operates much like faith , as hope, as witness, and taken together offers a way of beholding that serves as a means of advocacy for our kids who work so very hard and with us in tow teach us to become better in turn.

Your images are proof of this process, this imaging, and again and most of all, the efforts of your son in creating each, such combined efforts of father and son not only captivates, but has true merit... forcing me to slow down, stop and take notice. So do continue sir in the making. Hold fast, Yes the tension shall always persist but therein lies the endurance , as nothing that is truly good nor important ever comes through ease,,, and how such things make us better because of it, for with such overcoming to arrive there humility and strength arise and whose radiance paired like the two of you is inscribed into the heart in turn , only draws and illuminates life as u have so illuminated mine.

So to that i say yet again thank you and leave as reminder a request to hold true.

Timothy Archibald said...

Hiya Jacques-
Thanks so much for reaching out. I knew your work well in AZ, tho we never met, different worlds then for sure.

Happy to read your thoughtful note. Funny thing here- when things seem harmonious, the photos aren't as interesting. When things are melting down, the photos seem more feral or something. Right now we have harmony, so...

Your situation sounds intense, glad you are finding it special.


ingalbraith said...

Of course it's exploitive. Although many believe it to be true, exploiting something, or someone, isn't always a bad thing. I've been diggin that series for a while now.