2017 retrospective

2018 is the first year I will be able to begin life patterns outside of any predetermined schedules. I don’t have any deadlines, responsibilities (besides work), or assignments, from anybody else. I only have my own timeline, from now on. And that’s pretty terrifying. But, I have my own goals.

At the beginning of 2017 I resolved to do a handful of things:

-I will shy away from half-assing anything. (I kept with this one pretty well.)

-I will try my hardest to tame my temper this year. (This one did not happen.)

-I will respect my body more. (This took a lot of time and I’m still not great at it.)

-I will stay true to myself more. (I tried the hardest at this, and it showed.)

-I will shut up and listen more. (This one fell off the wagon, but it’s back on.)

For 2018 I want to address these things:

I’ve done an okay job of making work outside of school, but in collecting a photo a month for this post, I realized full months were missing, seemingly. I had to hunt things down, and I want there to be something photographically worthwhile for each month of 2018. This means I have to make the work. I have ideas, churning, I have the itch to keep making.

I have the itch to get out and make work elsewhere. I want to travel, I want to get into desert sand, foreign grass; old stones are waiting to be tread, and I’m grasping at it. By that same token I have the urge to push past my preconceptions of not being able to make work where I live, and find spaces, moments that give me the familiar feeling of wanting to photograph them.

2017 was productive, but I want to find a balance between working hard and letting myself breathe. And I want to forgive myself, and open up more, and consider multiple perspectives. I want to read more photo books, learn about more female photographers, disenfranchised artists, minorities, people of color, everyone I have slacked on, and everyone whose work I want to point to. I want to broaden and expand in so many ways, and continue to stay true to myself. I have so little to feel sorry for myself about, and so much to celebrate.

With that, here are some photos from 2017 and little captions.

I never published this one anywhere. In January after the New Year sometime, there was a mail truck that got stuck in this ditch down the street from my house. The photo of the truck didn’t come out, but of course the one of the hole in the dirt did.

This was also from January, but it’s going to count as my February photo, since I didn’t make any work that month. Excuses: I was drowning in work for my thesis show and working at the restaurant whenever I wasn’t doing that, and barely had time to do much else. Reality: I didn’t try. This will change.

From January to June I lived in my friend Anastazia’s apartment in Windsor Terrace. There were highway overpasses that looked like this. I lived around the corner from a sports bar called Rhythm and Booze where I was always the youngest person, and sometimes came in later than anyone else. The park was minutes away and I was dating someone who lived a bus ride down Coney Island Ave. When I think back to these months I remember these photos a lot– clear vision, but shrouded with something not quite penetrable.

And the dating continued, and my classes finished, and April carried itself into May gracelessly, in its way. I ended my undergraduate career with a capstone of a 10-page paper on Robert Mapplethorpe; at its tail end was “Self-Portrait With Bullwhip.” There was also a group exhibition in the Pratt Manhattan gallery, on view for a month, and it was the first time I’ve shown work in New York City proper. The print now hangs in Caiti’s bedroom.

I had my commencement at Radio City Music Hall and took a bus home two days later, heading home for the first time in five months. It was the longest I’d ever been away. Thankfully, some things, like this (above) section of the woods in Silver Spring, never change.

May also saw me buying my first medium format camera, a big lug of a thing. Here I am holding it. I started to TA at the International Center for Photography and smelled chemicals again and felt at ease but also at odds. I found myself with more time on my hands and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I slept, a lot, and enjoyed a period of respite– I don’t remember much of May besides the keystone moments.

June was just as leisurely, but with the pressure of finding another apartment while still working full-time. I went home again, briefly, after ending a relationship with this person, and spent the whole time driving myself into a panic. I’m thankful that this is the only time this year that I really beat hard on myself, and even more thankful that I’ve been able to come around again. At the end of June I moved in here and exhausted myself all the way through the beginning on July.

And at this point, thank the fucking lord, I began making work again, on a trip to Richmond.

When I had the ability to clear my head and focus on something worth looking at, it all came back. In August I started looking at the photos again, and allowed myself to fall back in love in so, so many ways. 

September also edged me further down a more productive path. I visited North Carolina for the first time in four years, and photographed on the beach as often as I could. I swam in the ocean, admired its roughness, marveled at the inconsequence of my life against all that salt. I want to revisit these feelings.

In October I visited Caiti’s dad’s house for the first time, and her mom cut my hair. I watched the Red Sox bone the postseason for the second year in a row. I began to yearn for a different job, feeling myself delve further into a rut I’m only now beginning to pull myself out of.

I was, and am always, concerned I’ll just make work that looks the same. At the end of this year I began scrambling, looking for other ways of producing, panicking a little. It was an easy state of mind to fall into. November and December were spent here, and photographs were made, though few and far between. I’m both ashamed and excited to admit there are undeveloped negatives in my refrigerator. This will change– there will be more.

For now, I’m going to get a good night’s sleep, and get back to my resolutions tomorrow.

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