The series refers to spectacles that (literally) move about and that move me personally. The body of work is entitled Espectáculos Que (Con)Mueven or Moving Spectacles. The work was made in Lima, Peru in July, 2010. These images represent a selection of it.
I visited small family circuses on the extreme outskirts of Lima during the day and photographed them (120 film, using a Hasselblad and Rollei).
It was near the middle of working on this project that I recognized this seed that motivated me to go in search of something I was at first unsure about. As I began and found the working performers, I felt buoyed.
Family circuses in Peru have been nomadic for two principal reasons. They need to change venues every ten days or so to obtain the needed number of entries to the circus. Secondly, the Serenazgo, municipal security workers, come at night and tear down their tents and ruin their things. The municipalities fear that the circuses might lay claim to the land, and thus have ruled their presence as illegal.
Many of the families in my photographs are children and grandchildren of circus performers and were born into this word of itinerant artists. I visited six different circuses in toto in three districts, San Juan de Lurigancho, Comas y El Agustino.
I am moved by the life of working itinerants and their struggle to move forward in life. I found each day I photographed I was more empowered by their struggle and fortitude.
The Magic Bench
I began to photograph 35 years ago in South America, where commonly there were itinerant photographers. I relished watching them and their subjects and I would dream about doing the same thing, in my personal way. For me the momentary intimacy captured between the subject and myself, albeit through my lens, answers the question of why I care to photograph.
In 2009 I began the process of creating my own backdrops and figuring out how I could become “una fotografa ambulante.” I read about early itinerants, and read their accounts, paid attention to their tips and tricks. I used some of the same phrases they used on their backdrops and created my own. I used one which is written incorrectly, “Majia e Ilusion,” feeling that we might create a space with magic and illusion and, simultaneously, create neither.
One thing I learned that was extremely helpful was to stay in the same locale for a long period of days or weeks, as those who passed by would become familiar with one’s presence and find one less intimidating or strange.
It became theatre. With my assistant we would set up our backdrops every day on the same bench in a small park. I would stop those who passed by me and explain who I was and what I was doing, asking them to participate and offering them a copy of the image. They would sign our book, including a model release.
Many of the same local people came every day to the park. We became friends, drank cokes together, talked, told stories, and laughed. When another subject walked by, I would pause, get up, and start my introduction. The others would wait until the session was over and we would continue our social hour. So it is with the sampling I have attached. There are approximately 120 selected images at this point from this project in progress, which I call The Magic Bench.
The images were taken with a Hasselblad film camera, 120 macro lens, 400 TMax film and printed 16” X 16” on archival fiber paper.
Credo † Quietus
Please view the statement under Images.
Curious Instants 084
Curious Instants 084 began with an expired box of Polaroid 084 film packs. I have always loved the ephemera of Polaroid, not so much the image quality: but the pulling and shaking, smelling and waiting, is a full-on ritual.
This series of objects in photo collages I made is about places I have really visited with individuals with whom I would have loved to have shared the excellent adventure.
The Artful Adventures of Mango and Blue
No one among canine devotees contests the widely held sentiment that dogs are the finest companions one could choose. And, each dog lover would claim to have a very special dog, a brilliant dog, a beautiful dog, the noblest of all creatures indeed.
My two pups, Mango and Blue, are, however, somewhat more special than others (like “More Equal Than Others,” in my own wry tribute to George Orwell). I do not intend to offend you, dear reader, with what appears to be a most extravagant boast. Really, I do not mean to offend at all but they really do have a very uncanny ability. Perhaps it is because they are littermates and have inherited this curious trait genetically, or perhaps because they are uniquely blessed by The Dog God. Notwithstanding, they can ponder a work of art, their abfabfave thing to do, and enter into the artwork itself. Literally enter the artwork. Their peers, even others dogs with whom I have had the pleasure to share my home, stare at the TV or squirrels or the food bowl, but not these two. They tilt their heads, remain fixated, and disappear into the canvas.
“That’s preposterous,” you say. I would say the same if I hadn’t witnessed this magical occurrence for myself rather regularly. And to prove it so, I am including some photographs I have taken as evidence (I still believe in the evidence of photographs, though I am vastly outnumbered by supercilious theorists). They not only enter the painting, collage or watercolor; they sometimes meet the artist within the frame. That encounter is completely out of view to me, I am sorry to say. When they come back out, though, they tell me tales that no one could invent so convincingly.
I just show them a print they love and poof. The first time was with one Mr. Andrew Wyeth. Blue went in, looked back at me, and lay down in the matted grass, most likely, the same grassy spot where the girl in the picture had lain. I fumbled for my camera phone and quickly snapped the shot. Of course my pictures cannot match the quality of the paintings themselves, but they do serve as a humble record of these extraordinary events. What I love most are the stories my dear pups tell me upon their return.
Let me begin at the beginning, with Blue’s adventure with Mr. Wyeth. Afterwards, Mango joins in with her accounts. The rest, well, reader, get cozy and enjoy the stories and pictures you will not find elsewhere.
(The rest will follow in a limited edition book.)
As far back as 62 BC, Rome possessed over one million denizens, though the habitable area of the city was quite small. For millennia her compact overpopulation has existed and, as a consequence, Romans are hardwired to live in close proximity with one another. Inspired reading the history of this megalopolis, I have made images of old Roman edifices and sites, sometimes in fragments, deluged by the everflow of humanity.
The quantity of milling humans from all over the world even now is not strange to these ancient stones, an anonymous public repeatedly eddying about them. As spectators, silent observers, stoic witnesses, these structures remain mum to impenetrable histories, to generation upon generation of beings, rushing, stirring about, as water runs in a river, always moving, never the same, always the same.
Liese A Ricketts
Beauty in the Beast
Near where I live south of Chicago, there is a gigantic hole in the Earth known as the Thornton Quarry. Excavations began in 1928 and statistics say that it is 1.5 miles (2.5 km) long, 0.5 miles (1 km) wide, and 450 feet (137.16 m) deep at its deepest point. It serves as part of the Deep Tunnel Project to receive excess storm water from Chicago. The quarry contains Silurian reefs, mainly limestone, which were formed when this land was covered by a sea over 400 million years ago. Once flying into Midway Airport, I saw it from the sky, a startlingly deep gash in the land.
From where I live, I can feel and hear the blasts from the quarry at 3pm during all months but winter. During the cold months, it is closed for excavation and becomes the habitat for red foxes and coyotes, some of which I saw while photographing. Huge mounds of different colored and shaped stone stand throughout the high ground. So big that large excavating machinery appears tiny as it drops its loads from on high. On another level there is a large lake. As it fills, the water seeps from one side to the other through cracks that have not been plugged and has created an unintended waterfall there. The dusty vegetation is scrubby, weedy, growing despite being parched, tenacious.
When I sleep now in winter, I imagine the space, now impassable for vehicles, with clean snow, quiet and dark, ancient marine fossils yet untouched, the only prints those of wild critters reveling in chilly seclusion.
These photographs were made with a 1920's German medium format camera, converted by me to take circular negatives on film. They are exhibited in original deco-period cardboard photo folders from my personal collection and housed in a clamshell box.
The Emperor's Back
My handmade and bound tunnel book, The Emperor’s Back, a title both literal and figurative, began as my artistic response to the refusal of our President to accept facts, as well as the inability of his sycophants to correct him. His repeated phrase, Fake News, refers back to what he and his co-conspirators have engaged in since before he took office.
A philosopher once explained that to counter an argument effectively, one must simply deny the premise, thereby undercutting any subsequent argument. We are, and have been, deluged by constant and continuous propaganda based on this type of sophistry.
The story of Hans Christian Andersen so aptly depicts our current political scenario. We are led by the deluded. The deluded are encouraged by those who follow; however, it will take more than a child, in this sad reality, to point out that the Emperor has no clothes.
When I was a little girl, a very long time ago, life in my small suburb was simple, certain, and safe. I could walk the neighborhood at night, stand under street lamps and get hit by June bugs, climb trees with the boys, and eat crab apples 'til I got diarrhea. We never locked our house or the car doors. When we went on short vacations, we would crank the kitchen window open for the cat to come in and out. The Lambrecht Dairy deliveryman would come into the house, open the refrigerator, put in the milk, cream, butter, and cottage cheese we needed and leave the bill to pay later.
My brother and I walked along a path by wild red sumac bushes to the grocery store a mile away to buy penny candy and look for tadpoles in the muddy puddles. At night in winter I walked to a nearby school playground lit by a floodlight to figure skate on the ice, if the boys hadn't wrecked its smooth surface by playing hockey. We could stay out way past dark. At Halloween we dressed up in homemade outfits and walked around the neighborhood collecting candy and pennies in old brown paper bags. We just didn't talk to strangers.
Life is different now, although the houses still look the same. I dare not leave my house, windows, or car unlocked, even if parked in my driveway. Children don't walk anywhere alone, except home from the school bus in groups. Grownups have hijacked Halloween, decorating their modest homes with the stuff of nightmares. For about a week before the holiday, I walk around and find, not the innocuous black cat or smiley witch of old, but tended lawns transformed into scenes of vicious savagery, toxic violence, and wanton gore. Police patrol the streets and set the curfew for 7pm.
I ask my husband why he thinks this so. He says, " Same reason dogs bark. Fear."
Yes. I have become fearful, too. Of thugs and muggers. Of crazy people with weapons. Of men in masks. Of Tylenol killers and mothers who murder their children. Of carjackers. Of burglars and rapists. Of bombers on planes. Of radical insurgents. Of identity thieves. Of bottles on the supermarket shelf that are unsealed. Of the seemingly unstoppable, irreversible escalation of Menace.
My neighbors in Prozac Nation ward off evil once a year with baleful icons, our private terrors made public. My pictures tell this story.
This body of work is entitled Moving Spectacles, done in Lima, Peru in July, 2010. I photographed small family circuses on the extreme outskirts of Lima. Family circuses in Peru have been nomadic for centuries due to a need to change venues weekly to ensure paying visitors. The Serenazgo, municipal security workers, come at night and tear down their tents. Municipalities fear that the circuses might lay claim to the land, and thus have ruled their presence as illegal.
120 Film, Digital Archival Prints, 36" X 36"
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