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Roy Money has a new photography exhibit at Mercy By The Sea February 14th —March 26th, based on a trip he made to China, and the experiences in his life that led up to it. In his statement he says,

Ordinarily when we see things, especially when they appear in a photograph, we think of them as static and as having an independent existence. Yet everything is made up of parts that are in turn made up of other parts and this process recedes back into the deepest recesses of time.

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In the show, the work is displayed as “triptychs, meant to conflate three moments and suggest a longer duration of time.  The pictures are grouped together to interrupt what otherwise might be the conventional perception of individual images, thereby stimulating additional associations for the viewer to savor and explore.”

I chatted with Roy earlier about those circumstances, and the work:

AC:

I read that this photo exhibit had its roots in a visit you made to China where you began taking photos after a long break from photography.

RM:

Right, after an active interest of making photographs and teaching photography and doing some freelance work in Boston and then in Nashville I did an MFA in photography at the University of Delaware and then spent a couple more years after that doing photography but family circumstances resulted in moving to New Haven and laying that aside for a couple of decades.

AC:

What was the experience like after a long lapse, did you approach the act differently, or take notice of different subjects?

RM:

Yes it was a very different approach as in the meantime I had read a lot of poetry and become involved in Zen and my work took on a more personal focus and on the natural world in particular. That was one of the inspirations from my first trip to China in 2008 – seeing how differently the world of nature was viewed, not really as a different ‘world’ as it is here but as a part of one world that was shared with humans. There was a sense of veneration of rocks and trees. So initially when I came back I spent a lot of time in East Rock park, which is close to where I live, and have a body of work devoted to that place alone.

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AC:

And did you see the park differently because of the Chinese sensibility of nature and reality, and take different types of photos, or was it more the personal experience?

RM:

In my earlier work I was mostly photographing social situations and not photographing the natural world. However I spent a lot of my childhood in the rural south on the farms of my relatives and in the woods where I lived, so there was a strong resonance with my past in that regard. In terms of personal vs Chinese sensibilities – the sensibility is certainly personal and deeply felt but is informed by what I saw in the veneration of natural things in 2008 and is consistent with what I know about Taoism and Chan/Zen Buddhism. When I visited the Scholar Gardens of Suzhou in 2008 I felt like I was completely at home.

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AC: That approach seems to fit well with the venue for your current exhibit, Mercy By The Sea, based on the photos of a more recent trip to China in 2013. Did it feel like the work from your most recent trip (exhibited February 14th —March 26th) was an evolution or deepening of your previous experience?

RM:

Evolution for sure and deepening I trust. Certainly deepening in terms of my interim and considerable time spent with the digital technology and also I think in terms of my interim investigation and exploration of my own perception and affinities.

I will add a quote from the photographer Edward Weston who was one of my earliest photographic heroes and still remains so.

‘There is an old Zen saying that goes: to a man who knows nothing, mountains are mountains, waters are waters and trees are trees. But when he has studied and knows a little, mountains are no longer mountains, water is no longer water and trees no longer trees. But when he has thoroughly understood, mountains are once again mountains, waters are waters and trees are trees.’

Edward Weston, 1946, recalling Chan/Zen teacher Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin [Jap. Seigen Ishin], 9th century China

–Matt Reiniger

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