In The Show 1, I wrote about making pictures for an exhibition I had on Martha's Vineyard in 1995. In this one, we'll take a look at some of the work and I'll explain the foundational logic I used in making the pictures.
As the years accumulated I photographed sites built and unbuilt that were being managed by VOLF. In the properties where there were no buildings yet, I began to feel that there was a larger reason for the photographs being made. After all, my photographs would have historical importance as a record of what the land looked like before anything was built on it. While I still photographed the beaches and along the shore I found myself exploring much more of the interior of the island. Plus, VOLF was providing access to some incredible sites that otherwise I couldn't get to.
The very poor and very old photographer Eugene Atget photographed "his" Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in reaction to increasing industrialization. The Paris he knew well was being changed forever by the automobile and electricity. He took on the task of documenting the city to record it for posterity. They are some of the most poignant and heartfelt photographs I have ever seen.
I carried in my mind many of his indelible photographs as I photographed all over the island. The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of massive increases in building on the island. I was now on a mission to document parts of the island before they were changed forever.
Plus I was using the current day equivalent of the camera he had used, a large-format 8 x 10 camera on a tripod, making black and white pictures by developing a few sheets of film at a time and printing the pictures in my darkroom.
This was a new and heady experience. Using my photographs for something more than self-expression, meaning that these pictures were far less about me and more about my subject and the photographs' place in time.
Let's stop here. Let me set the stage for the next one, The Show 3. I'll bring us to the exhibition that opened August 2, 1995, in Edgartown at the Martha's Vineyard Museum and some of the drama around it.