CY Frankel‘s photographs from ‘Careful’ demand that we work, that we construct our own reality out of his visual clues. Nothing is as it is. All is subjective. There is no truth. Or rather everything is truth when seen through the lens of a camera. His camera.
Frankel wants us to create our own narrative arc out of a series of pictures that have no relationship with each other. Their only commonality is him. The man behind the camera. He is testing us. Making us realise that what we see is merely a perception of reality not reality itself. In short he is reminding us that documentary photography is a story told by a single person. Is not objective. Rather it is, by definition, a document pertaining to a persons relationship to that which is infront of them; physically, emotionally, politically, socially.
Everything we see is distilled through our experience. Our life. Human nature dictates that we create our own stories to make sense of the world. Make sense of our pointless existence, our terminal decline, our short moment on a spinning rock in a infinite universe. So what I see here is different from you. My experience dictates its own story through these photographs. Its own tale of suburban life; toddlers and young women, empty streets and damaged fencing.
The concept of photographic truth is a question rarely articulated. The media has led us into an illusory world in which we believe everything we see. As Lou Reed said in ‘The Last Great American Whale’:
Don’t believe half of what you see and none of what you hear
This planet of visual illusion has coerced us into believing the visual image is a reflection of reality when infact it’s a construction built to sell us product, keep us compliant. And this is what these photographs propel us into. They riff off fiction. They play with our desire to understand the incomprehensible wonder of life. They are part an ongoing project which I shall be returning too. Here’s what Frankel has to say about the series:
Unplanned and unstaged, these photographs are representations of people and things both unknown and familiar. They are ostensibly unrelated, taken in a variety of locations over a period of time stretching over two years.
Through their contextualisation within a larger narrative, the images begin to tell a story, but one that might only ever exist in imagination, in the subconscious, or in the memories it pricks from the subjective life experiences of artist or viewer.