Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eugene Richards - The Blue Room

For any aspiring documentary photographer, for any aspiring photographer, for all of us who are thinking, feeling human beings, the first time you encounter the work of Eugene Richards is a moment not quickly forgotten.

Like being punched in the chest - winded and in that moment arriving at some uncomfortable truth about oneself, Richards’ images confront us with our own humanity at it’s most raw and it’s most vulnerable.

From his seminal self-published photo-essay on the low income locals, daytime dilapidation and bubbling racism of his hometown in ‘Dorchester Days’, to his documentation of his partner Dorothea Lynch’s battle with breast cancer in ‘Exploding Into Life’ Richards takes us to places that, sometimes, we’d rather not go. We are willing to go there however and perhaps it’s because he’s taking us there.

Shy and softly spoken it’s wonderful to hear Mr. Richards discussing his latest book ‘The Blue Room’ - a study of abandoned houses across the US.

I guess it’s fair to say this work is somewhat different from what I am referring to above both in style and tone however the images 'The Blue Room' remain laden with emotion and pathos.

His voice, poignant and wry, he recounts his journeys photographing these abandoned properties and the ghosts they have left behind, real or imagined. Wedding dresses and war stories. Swallows that fly upstairs but can’t get down again. Stolen kisses and cigarette butts.

Worth the watch.

The original video file at better resolution from Host Gallery is here.


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