Time is Running Out Introduction

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As photographers we all have been conditioned to draw conclusions, either within the context of the "contemplative" picture universe or the world our images actually exist within. This process leads us to form methods for grouping images, and ways of defining the pictures with our words. What is sometimes most intriguing is how each of us approaches this process, and in the end, what we draw from our systematic ways of looking at things. The making of photographs usually leads us to repetitious visits to familiar places, and to various ways of grouping our visual thoughts, in the end the finality is usually found in an exhibition or a book. We have exhibited our class work regularly on the walls in the classroom, so what's left is the book. Perhaps true discovery lies in the collective approach, the way each of us seeks to understand and define the same idea, concept or set of words. This is where we might end, but for me, this is where we all begin.

Lilli brought us to our title through the work she did in Hawaii before she would leave the island. For Lilli there was the self inflicted anxiety and sadness that comes with leaving her tropical paradise, hence the timelessness of her original title, "the girl for whom time is running out". I connected her words to the underwater actors in her photographs, and lured the class into believing that her title should become our title, since Lilli's under the sea characters would have to come up soon for air. That is how "Time Is Running Out" came about. She invited us all to her underwater dinner party, and to her credit allowed us to arrange and rearrange her work to suit our own viewing pleasure. 

For Maria there was also the inevitability of time and its ultimate convergence with reality. Maria was set to leave the United States for her native Chile before she even arrived here. Such is the status that comes with a student visa. Tormented as she was by the eventuality of the return trip, she managed to parley her emotions into her work. Her visa pictures became a therapeutic way for her to understand and come to terms with eventuality. Her work was also stocked with irony and candid confrontation, but above all with confidence, learning that her importance as an accomplished communicator was well deserved. 

Sometimes you have to start all over again. Spencer came to this conclusion when he came to class halfway through and informed us all that there was nothing he wanted to photograph. I told him he was given a great gift and that eventually he would begin again, and this time with a bit more purpose and a clean plate. He then proceeded to share his great running of the race with us. Stopping along the way to make a few pictures. Short and sweet this work had a beginning and an end. This helped him tie up lots of loose ends. It allowed the viewer to experience the sweat and fatigue and triumph that comes with running the race. 

Darcy is getting older and needs to climb the stairs in his building everyday to convince himself he will live on. On his way up and down, he pauses to catch his breath and to ponder just how far he has come, using his glasses as a metaphor for what we all may see one day in the stairwell. Sometimes he looks out the window and just shakes his head. With Hellen there is always the dream. There is the dream of togetherness and loneliness a la Duane Michals. There are those who appear and disappear and those whose personal objects drift through the scene. I am taken by her vulnerability and photographic cinema. There is a bit of the "noir" in the work. There is also that sense of longing that comes with being connected to others, or in some fashion, being disconnected.

Finally we come to our guest photographers. Christian Nam and Day Day Yang and Lee Jung Ho, who all came to class on Wednesday nights as visiting provocateurs. They all brought keen insights and glorious questions. Day Day gave names to his bathroom portraits that he showed, which he felt reminded him of friends he knew and cared for. While Christian assembled photographic moments that connected his viewers to some space of time that we may have never really occupied, but that we may be able to remember from past experience. Isn't that really what is important in the viewing, experiencing a space in time that we have never really sat in, but we are readily able to comprehend? Lee Jung Ho visited the ghosts of the real estate bust in Chicago, and persuaded the gatekeeper at the abandoned 92 story high rise in downtown Chicago to give him access. His images evoke the still life of an already silent space. So there is some double irony in all his work and cadence, as well as architectural clarity, and confusion. With all three class guests there are the photographs, these objects, these flawed pieces of paper, rekindling the dream that is only a photograph can be. Sometimes it's hard to remember when the dream started and when it will end, and where it will go and who will be left in it.

So Time Is Running Out. Perhaps this is what makes it all possible. The tension and uncertainty of finality, that is random at best, keeps us going. Without this tension we would never start, since then we would have all the time in the world.