So, as I mentioned before, my meeting Frank Gohlke was a huge influence. That early influence was so great, I followed Frank to the Massachusetts College of Art, in hopes to work with him again as I pursued my MFA (though I think I talked with him no more than 3-4 times during those two years). Today, as I continue my daily struggle of defining myself as a photographer, it feels great to reconnect with Frank’s thoughts and work, it’s like rediscovering something essential.
Perhaps it helps me to better understand, or perhaps by copying them down myself I feel I can take a certain ownership over them, but again I simply would like to share a few passages from his recent book Thoughts on Landscape:
If I had to define an ideal viewer, it would simply be someone who had enough trust in their own responses to things and enough ability to be quiet. If they were able to articulate that response that would be wonderful, too, because we would learn something. You never know what’s it for, but I keep doing it.
I mean only in the last five years or so have a number of very young ambitious artists chosen photography as their primary medium. If they were painters, they would be doing the same thing. They’re doing it now in photography because that seems to be the medium, or at least a medium, in which a lot of very important things are happening. It look as if, you know, we’re in this horrible period where there’s an enormous amount of insincere, inauthentic, strategic and unloving work, but I don’t think it’s really very much different than it’s been most of this century in terms of the number of artists who are primarily interested in making a career and the number of artists who are interested in living a life.
The only really important thing to do is to work. Where you do it is not inconsequential and has a lot to do with your own state of self-confidence, your own sense of how ignorant you can afford to be of certain things…there are crucial decisions. But whether you to graduate school or don’t go, or live in isolation or seek community, whatever, if you don’t do the work, you’re not going to do anything….Well, you know what Freud said. Two important things in life, something he said toward the end of his life. “What are the most important things in life, Dr. Freud?” “Lieben und arbeiten” “To love and to work.” Everything important can fit in those two. Love and work.