It’s All Relative
I grew up in a privileged suburban life in Westchester, New York. Early on in my career, family was the last thing I ever wanted to photograph. For me, photography was the passport into another, more dangerous world. When I began photographing my family in my late 20s, I began to unpack my relationship to my family--more indicative of my relationship to the outside world than I had ever thought, and the key to exploring my questions about the effects of wealth, vanity, childhood, aging, fragility, political conflict and mortality so entrenched in my other work. As a result, my work has become a deeply intimate engagement with my subjects, in which everything is personal. I have become fascinated with the complex nature of tradition: my work has always been an artist’s search for a deeper understanding of family and tribe in all its forms. There is a very thin line between the ties that bind and the ties that free, between the secrets and stories that haunt and those that provide comfort, and I have an enduring respect and fascination for those that choose to walk that line, struggling to become who they are without forgetting where and whom they came from.
Throughout the history of modern photography, distance and intimacy have coexisted. My work continues to explore the fascinating line between the two, which reveals itself in a modern portraiture practice. Open up any family album – it serves as a reminder of a moment preserved in a photograph, now only a piece of paper with an emulsion. The image on the paper and the people in the frame appear as though they are safe from time passing; they are in a way, immortalized. Every family constructs a portrait of itself, what Susan Sontag has called, “a portable kit of images that bears witness to it’s connectedness.” The family album tells itself like a story that passes on to the children and grandchildren. I do not want to be a passive recipient of this inherited narrative. I repurpose the family album in my works directly related to my own family.
Grandpa helping Grandma out of the limo, 1999