Fayum – Danskoy Crematorium

Fayum – Danskoy Crematorium

Danskoy Crematorium, Moscow. 1995
Platinum-palladium print on vellum from 8×10 inch negative

Perhaps by way of pausing with my rambling thoughts about the relationship between the Fayum portraits and not just my own portrait work but photographic portraiture more generally, I am posting this image. It is a strange one and, the way deceased friends  dance through your memories and day-to-day experiences, this image perplexes me. I cannot fully recall why I made it – but clearly remember many details surrounding the moment I made it. A child and an older man, walking past me as I was setting up. The man was carrying a plastic shopping bag. My friend Mark Preslar sitting on a bench behind me. The stillness of light and sound. Like Proust’s madeleine, every time I see a dark granite or marble funerary stone, waiting to be carved into, I think of Danskoy and this particular afternoon.

It is a strange negative. Something went wrong during the development process, and I accidentally stained a small section (around the tree). The ghost of the darkroom. Greeting and engaging the other dancers.

It is a strange print, dark yet very luminous, and like so many other prints on vellum, light passes through it and bounces back out from the supporting surface of the white matt board.

It is a strange thing, to engrave one’s face as a place-holder, staking out what is essentially mutable and singular (yes, both at the same moment) within the (seemingly) immutable multitude. Photographs of photographs.

‘I would no more question my eye than I would question a window concerning sight. I look through it, not with it.’ – William Blake (from Kathleen Raine’s excellent “Golgonooza: City of Imagination – Last studies in William Blake”

One response to “Fayum – Danskoy Crematorium”

  1. Pradip, I think one of the things that I love about this shot is the language barrier. I have no idea what the words on the stone mean, but I know what the stone means itself.