Victoria Rivera, Coyolillo.
Honduras. 1995. platinum-palladium print. 8×10 inches
And then, the Fayum portraits are not distinguished just by the rendering of eyes. The place at which the face looks is, I think, what makes them feel timeless; a place that is somewhere beyond the viewer, and both after and before what is experienced. Victoria Rivera, a remarkable lady bringing up what seemed like a small hoard of grandchildren, lived in a remote village that could only be accessed via a 2 hour hike. Fascinated by the large camera, when I asked her to not move while I focused, she sat, very, very still — and looked into and beyond the lens. I still recall the thrill and chill I felt as she looked into the camera, through the ground glass, (past my eyes that were trying to focus on her eyes,) head and beyond.
The correspondence between the fayiumi and my portraits has a lot to do with the process of photographing with a large format camera.
India, 1995. Platinum-palladium print from 8×10 negative
Prayer and Despair [view folio] : I have just updated a body of work done while traveling across Russia, Siberia, Honduras, India and Japan during 1995. A handful of images have yet to be added from Russia and Siberia. A short statement from that time, which was written towards the end of the year of traveling, reads:
India, November, 1995. It is midweek, and there are priests, pilgrims and worshippers milling around us. Religion does not abide by the seven day cycle here. My parents are unusually quiet as we stand amid the bustle, gazing out at a tiered stretch of river. Damodarkund. They explain that this is where the ashes of my ancestors have been released over the centuries, into the still waters, along with flowers, prayers, tears, memories. Like smoke. I feel a lightness, something lifting. This is where I came from, this is where I am going. My hand is in the water, a conduit and a key…
…Acceptance of anything can bring despair, and anything unbearable can inspire prayer. Kneeling down on the river bank, my hand in the clear water, I felt both.
All the images are platinum-palladium prints made from the original 8×10 negatives.