Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learning Something New: A project on memory and disconnection

In the harsh winter of 2008, I visited the city where I was born. The city of Chicago. I use to bring my camera with me to Chicago when I would visit, but only for the first year after I moved away. The last several years I would leave it in Boston, knowing that It would just sit in my bag if I brought it.
I knew there were reasons I never brought my camera with, but never had the strength to wrestle with those demons. I knew though that it was time to not let myself be discouraged. I needed to allow myself to answer those questions. What was this fear of shooting the places and people I call home?

The night before my flight, I made decided to pack up my Yashica Mat 2 1/4 camera. I figured it was the best camera that would allow me to avoid bringing a tripod. I also thought it would be best to shoot handheld the whole time, since it would force me to make quicker decision and wouldn't allow me to over analyze my shots.

When I got there I started shooting with my initial responses and with a simple idea in mind. That simple idea came into place very quickly as I started to realize that it wasn’t so much a fear that was holding me back before, but was more of a disconnection with my past.

After this realization and two rolls of film, I decided to approach photographing Chicago with the idea of rediscovering the things that I had disconnected from since my departure five years ago. Not only did I want to explore the disconnect I felt with my past, but also with things that were simply not here before, or maybe were things I had just missed: the family members who have always seemed to be distant, the windy city’s politics, the unfamiliar laws, and the transition from urban to modern sprawl.

I knew that just this one visit to Chicago wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of this idea and approach, but it was a start. The images below are an edit from that December. Some of them may not fall into this idea of rediscovery, but they got me to thinking about it, and feeling it out. Like any project we shoot and shoot and then learn from the mistakes or wrong approaches we take through experience. I don't know yet where this project will end up, and it still drains me to think about it, but these images will guide me when I photograph during my next visit home.

Governor Blagojevich had just been caught the week before I came home and was being pressured to resign. I got to hear a lot about it on NPR during my visit.

The Christkindlmarket in Down Town Chicago. A German holiday market held every year. My grandmother took me here when I was younger and I always remembered the smell of German foods and candies. I had wanted to go back so many times but always forgot about it. It was exactly as I remembered it. Almost too exact, but nonetheless, it was amazing. I bought a German shoulder toy that walks on its own if you give it a slight push.

The Cloud Gate, or often called "The Bean" done by Anish Kapoor at Millennium Park.

Rosa's is my moms favorite bar/karaoke place in the Burbank IL area. I absolutely hate going there, but she always insists on having small gatherings there when I visit. I got to see some cousins whom I have not seen in a while, along with meeting my mothers fiance. Weird.

Millennium Park was finished after I moved away. I had only seen it once before this visit but never during the winter. It was just as beautiful as it was in the summer. It also makes me proud of my city for how open it has always been with modern architecture, art and culture.

These next five images are taken from the Red Line Train going inbound from up north. All five are taken from the same spot on the train car I was in at five different train stops.


Johanna A. said...

beautiful shots, john! you have really come a long way. i'm envious of your talent!

Lolita said...

yeah we're a pretty awesome city, you should come back to it ^_^. Let's play cards!