From fairly early on I gravitated to the philosophical notion that it was the task of the Artist to go away and then to return Home. As metaphorically nuanced as such a premise may be, it has been fundamental in my life as an artist. I indeed have spent much of my life going away and coming home again; the distances have been both ones close at hand and far-flung. I explore, traveling often: globally, regionally, and locally. I have gone out to vast and empty horizons; to stark and austere, extreme and remote places. I have set forth across the vastness of the open ocean, and penetrated the torrid densities of the equatorial rain forest. I have traversed the expanses of great and severe deserts; open and rolling mid-continental plains; and, the depths of boreal woods and wetlands. I look at places that have stood apart from human ken, and conversely, I examine the places that humans have made their home and have held close to their hearts.
The compass of my embrace has always been a broad one, and the stances I have taken when absorbing myself in the stuff of this world have been diverse in nature. In my life and work alike, I have been neither monolithic nor linear. All that I do, and have done, is linked and interwoven, and subsumed with correspondences and complementarity; something I may have done 20 years ago on the far side of the planet can come into immediate play next week when I might, say, click my shutter along a county road in rural North Dakota.
Photography and I go way back. My first camera was a plastic cheapie acquired while in grade school thanks to a Wheaties box-top, twenty-five cents, and a three cent stamp; my second, a Rolleicord, was bought with my Bar Mitzvah gelt. Photography in those days was one amongst an array of hobbies. It was the one that took, and stuck.
These antecedents now noted, I will, for the purposes of this narrative, jump the decades and pick up the thread of my life in photography in 1970, and address what I’ve been doing since then. 1970 was a watershed year. It was when I pulled up stakes in NYC – I was born and raised in the Bronx -- and immigrated to Minnesota. A new life in a new place sparked the prospect of new work, and new tangents and intricacies of thought. I was, after all, in a new world -- so far as I could initially tell the main (only?) thing that the Bronx and Minnesota shared was that they were both on the U. S. main land. Anything beyond that remained to be seen.
During the course of my first decade or so here in the upper Midwest, I began formulating some reflective notions about what doing photography could mean. Basically, I began to define the medium as an agency by which I, and in turn (if art’s algebra actually works) we, can get a handle on the questions that might then be asked: What is in the world? How it is for us? How do we come to know about it? What can happens to it? What transpires in it? And, by extrapolation, what happens in us when we seek such elusive and enigmatic knowledge? For me then, photography has subsequently long hovered nebulously between the visual arts and philosophical inquiry.
My toolbox harbors both concrete and abstract elements. I work with both color and b/w film. I use various cameras – often in counterpoint, as each individual project’s particulars dictate. I often use a few types of emulsions in concert. All in all, a way of working that I see to be functionally akin to the dynamics of Talmudic inquiry. I use the instruments of photography – its physical ones, and its cognitive ones – together and combination to address what I see, apprehend, and experience. This is some of the stuff that I try to get at: A sense of presence; The poetics of placement; The glints of transcendence; The charge of subsuming metaphor; The feel of sheer facticity; The truths of verisimilitude.
I never cease to work – my motto: bop ‘til you drop. During the past few years I have continued to log 1000s of miles around the US making photos in dozen states – I have worked in all 50 on a multi-decade and ever ongoing encyclopedic exploration of American regions. Three years ago I, at last, became officially ‘Bi-Polar’ by ‘attaining’ the North Pole on a Russian nuclear icebreaker.
Born in The Bronx in 1941. Attended the University of Michigan. Lived in NYC and Stockholm, Sweden in the 60s; moved to Minneapolis in 1970 - resides there still.
He has, to date, made six visits to Antarctica to photograph. The initial one, in 1987, as a participant in a private sailing expedition; the 5 subsequent ones made under the aegis of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.
And, on several occasions also worked in the Far North: Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, Alaska, and Lapland (where he photographed the regions irradiated by fallout from the Chernobyl disaster).
In July 2009 he 'attained' the North Pole. This achievement has made him officially 'Bi-Polar'. He has been at the South Pole four times over. Only approximately 400 human beings have visited both Poles.
Other major forays have taken him across the Aboriginal Outback of Northern Australia, the Biblical deserts of Israel and Sinai, the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica, the far reaches of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina, and widely in the cities and provinces of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
He has logged 1000s and 1000s of miles of seaborn travel, photographing on all of the Earth's oceans and on many of its seas and other large bodies of water.
For nearly 30 years he has made photographs in all 50 states, distilling and crystallizing the defining characteristics of American regions. In effect, scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man -- and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we are on and the world we find ourselves in; where we are at and who we are; what we've done; and, where we can go.
This ever-expanding agglomeration of pictures now numbers upwards of 30,000. It was initiated by a three-state corporate art commission in 1980. It is titled, “The World in a Few States.”
Other major undertakings have involved his photographing extensively in the First World War cemeteries and memorials of the Western Front in Belgium and France; and, in major physics and astronomy research installations throughout the US; making portraits of people in Pakistan and Sri Lanka; and the Anaszai ruins of the Southwest.
His photographs have been exhibited in, and collected by, major museums in the nationally and internationally; foremost the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, The Jewish Museum (NYC), The McDonald Gallery (NZ), The Israel Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Artium - the Basque Museum of Contemporary Art (Vitora, Spain), the Bonn (Germany) Kunsthalle, and the Moderna Museet (Stockholm). Also: The university museums of Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, and Arizona (the Center for Creative Photography).
He has been the recipient of many major grants and fellowships including two each from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the Bush Foundation (St. Paul, Minn.), and three each from the McKnight Foundation (Mpls., Minn.) and the Minn. State Arts Board and the National Endowment of the Arts; and other grants from The Bogliasco Foundation, the Arts Board of Texas, and the Jerome Foundation.
He has been the recipient of the US Navy's Antarctic Service Medal.
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