the birdman

We began with a mask;My friend John had these amazing Venetian masks and I thought it would make an interesting prop for a portrait. He explained it was the Plague Doctor Mask; Doctors would wear masks like this to "protect" them from plague. We had at least five masks,but only shot this one. John found the cross in proplandia-our collection of props-" this is all you had at that time," . It added a different element to the story.

I also have been wanting to make images for a poem by my neighbor in Casas Grandes,Liliva Soto. For months now I have been thinking about it; I went looking for a perfect eggplant and artichoke and ended up with cilantro for one of the lines in the poem. We then did a few images with an Agave leave; cilantro, and a piece of red ribbon that wasn't long enough... these were about life; the taste, the smell. our connection with nature. Playing with the elements. Playing with light and shadow, the hidden and revealed.

It is only a beginning.I hope to make this series into a visual poetry book complete with recipes & musica.

I miss Mexico..... I sit here and read the poem outloud,struggle over some of the words and their meaning-lost in translation-again-I remember hearing Lilvia reading her poem in her kitchen one afternoon. How I love to listen to people read outloud...her voice rising and falling, images dancing in my head beyond the words, colors, tastes, memories.

Later when editing I reflected upon the experience how connected it is to my dead bird series I've been doing in Mexico;it also reminded me of Pedrito's portrait with the head covered. I felt a profound sense of melancholic, a beautiful sadness; sentimental; I wondered if Pedrito is flying around. I thought of all the thousands of birds in the afternoon in the sky over Paquime, the river valley; memories of gold cloaked in the blackness,the everythingness of muerte. death. Late night metaphors.

As I download photos from my shoot I am scanning in Spencer's MacCallum's Slides from the early Juan Quezada days. I peel apart glass slide mounts. My fingers still remember. I load image after image and get a sentimental feeling for Kodachrome. The yellow, warm golds,the greens of the aged film. Juan with hugh chops; the adobe house,the kids, EL Indio,the constant presence of the mountains rising up out and over Mata Ortiz. it is just amazing...I think of Sam Abell and his description of Lethtos -most likely spelt wrong-it is a Greek concept of impermanence. He describes what we do as photographers is to make this huge visual statement on a very small, and insignificant material that is flimsy, easily damaged that sometimes ends up to be all that remains. A small gesture. Click. got to go scan one in now.

I am including the raw files and a couple of the worked images. They are points of departure. In the end I envision these as mix media pieces, painted and distressed. Little bits of gold leaf..dark wood frames.


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