Photography by Florin Ion Firimita
You told me that you once thought that if you were to point your camera lens at a human being, you would somehow cause their disappearance. This thought makes me laugh because, I, being one of the subjects you often point your lens at, have at times only felt life through your lens. Although I never wish you any physical pain, I praise the ailment that led you back to your lens. In a way, our ailments led us to this partnership that we have created over the past three years and although I sometimes curse my body for its failures, I have faith that it was all for a reason.
You once asked me why I model. And at the time I couldn’t give you an answer – mainly because I didn’t know myself and also because I hadn’t needed to explain it before. I have never viewed “modeling” as something I needed to do to prove something to myself or anyone else. I’ve never viewed it as a way to boost my self-confidence or a way to deal with my inner demons. I found, through you and through us working together, that I love to model because I love to provoke feeling and thought – in myself and in others. The art of photography is very similar to the dance world. The audience is a focal point and as a performer, it is part of the job to provoke a thought or a feeling or create an alternate universe, an escape from reality for your audience. Tell them a story. Make it come alive. Being your “model” your “muse” your lens focus for the past three years, has taught me, firstly, how to think, and secondly, has allowed me to become a source of thought. Your photography captures feelings. Not objects. You say you just press the shutter release button, but you do so much more. Without even knowing it, you create atmospheres that, before I met you, I thought only existed in movies and books. You articulate feelings and ideas in a way that make them come to life. You inspire. And I can only hope to be a tool for you to capture that and share with so many others who need that inspiration.
I have been in downward slopes of life when I have felt no sense of inspiration, no peace and no sense of worthiness, and yet, in those times I have found that looking back through your lens, that spark is reignited. You created it, seeing it and capturing it has ignited that flame inside of me and inside of others. And that is my explanation for why I do what I do. If I can create an atmosphere of feeling in a still life that re-ignites an inspirational flame inside someone else, that is considered the greatest success. You’ve been my inspiration for the past three years and have taught me so much about the world I live in and about myself. You have not only become someone I admire but a friend. A confidant. A lover of life and adventure. A child at heart who is so curious about the world and everything in it. It is so strange to think of our first shoot in the small Canton bookstore. Who knew of the great impact you would have on my life. Who knew that we would become so close and traveled the world together. Create such magic with the lens. Learn so much. My life has been forever changed through knowing you and I would never change that.
Cheers to more adventures to come.
Until a few years ago, I only made photographs inspired by abstract or inanimate objects. I used to think that photography as only a type of embalming. For a while, I was afraid that if I pointed my lens at a human being I would cause his/her disappearance. This had something to do with the map of my life, of course. (Freud would have relished having me on his couch.) Somehow, I have escaped that particular trap, or I would like to believe that I have.
I spent many hours within the confining walls of a painting studio. Then things changed. An unexpected ailment (I had trouble standing for extended periods of time) led to an increased sense of isolation and a bout of depression. I decided to return to the world, to return to photography.
We met in a bookstore in Connecticut in 2016. A friendship developed and we have been making photographs ever since. I am saying “making photographs” because I am from the school of thought that doesn’t “take” photographs. People take millions of photographs each year. I am just trying to make a few honest ones.
From Cape Cod to Paris, from Venice to New York, you have been my co-conspirator in sorting out and enhancing my vast collection of ideas, situations, places and memories. The multilayered map of our relationship is hard to explain to the external world. Actually, the only reason I started writing about it was not in order to clarify or pinpoint anything, but to acknowledge the magic of it.
I dislike the word “model” or “muse.” What makes us work besides the trust, the openness about ideas, the shared belief in art as a form of putting order into chaos is the fact that you are an artist as well. Through our shared puzzle of airplanes, cities, cars, props and friends, I suspect we are both bound by search for what Ricardo Piglia once called “giving form to experience.” You do it through dance and writing, I do it through images.
Artists are a strange breed; our restlessness, our pursuit of something rarely attainable is what fuels us. We propose a model for the world in which the world is witnessed and also transformed. I am not sure what you see in this restless creative mind that refuses to go to sleep. Through you, I propose a better alternative, thinking that the world would accept it. Often, things don’t go according to the plan, but we keep displaying our offerings on our ephemeral plates. We are givers but also takers. Our beggar’s hat is out for coins of attention, and even when we get paid, it’s all free because what we give and what we receive have no monetary value.
In making art together, both of us have experienced moments of joy, vulnerability, doubt and happiness. How very human! Am I trying to mold you into something based on my experiences and desires fueled by years of absorbing the world through looking at paintings in art museums, listening to conversations in restaurants, traveling, falling in and out of love and channeling artists whom I admire? Am I creating an alternative solution for a reality polluted by greed, violence and politics? I don’t know where images come from or what their meanings are. The mechanics of creativity and life are too complex to dissect here. It is more important to pay attention to your internal voices and see where they lead you. As a good friend of mine says: “Sometimes it’s better to let the train go through your heart than through your brain”. All I know is that, for better or worse, if beauty exists independent of us as a species, we are responsible for acknowledging it and mixing it into the fabric of our lives.
I am basically saying how deeply grateful I am for the unplanned intersection of our lives. Things are always fluid. It’s hard to predict when creative journeys begin or end, but that’s the beauty of art and life: while one is on the road, the only map is one’s internal GPS.
It has been a luxury to work with you in many places around the world.
In order to exist, art needs room to grow. In order for illusions to be created, reality must be harnessed; a balance of chance and control must coexist. Stars do sometimes line up, and sometimes we like to believe that we influence chance by the choices we make. What we put back into the world through our art is the positive energy we produce together. Hopefully, we have transformed some of our best private experiences into something universal. Who could argue with the fact that the goal of art is precisely this translation – our gift to the world and ultimately to ourselves.
Here is to more magic!
Fashion Editorial – She Said/He Said
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