Defiant wabi-sabi

For about a year now, I’ve been doing a mail art project, of sorts. I’ve been making postcards — some by hand, and some mechanically produced — and sending them away. I send them to a broad range of people; in true dada fashion, some of these people are chosen at random, but most are sent to people in the field of photography, people I admire. The most recent of these was a set of postcards made on book plates from an early field guide to birds.

general_buster_keaton

One of the frequent recipients of these cards is the photographer Robert Adams. He is an artist I’ve admired for years, and we’ve had a sort of pen-pal relationship over time. I was delighted and surprised to receive a letter from him this afternoon. His letter was succinct, but quite insightful in understanding my predicament as a photographer. He wrote this in particular about my mail art project:

Many thanks for the lovely little fragments, defiant wabi-sabi out into…what?….well, we know what — our “mutilated” world, as Adam Zagajewski has rightly called it.

I like that, defiant wabi-sabi.

robert_adams_2

He also sent me a xeroxed photograph of Buster Keaton, and a transcript of a graduation speech given by John Szarkowski to a group of art students in Minneapolis in 1975. I’m attaching pdf of the speech. It has some lovely moments.

Szarkowski speech


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4 thoughts on “Defiant wabi-sabi

  1. Thanks for posting the .pdf of the transcript. Apologies in advance if you’ve already done so: be sure to read Adams’s lucid “Beauty in Photography”. And drink more whisky at night, if only to honor John’s memory.

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