2018 #7

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by Raymond Meeks

"Raymond Meek’s work always returns to the subject of home. Consumed by his own housing experiences, he is persistently drawn to the visible signs of neglect and degradation."

FAMILIAR FOOTPRINTS

I haven’t yet developed a precise way of speaking about my new project, though it revolves around similar ideas of “home” and “place” at play in previous series. I tend to be guided by circles, and my path is often lined with familiar footprints. As Thoreau said, ‘Know your bone. Pursue, keep up with, circle round and round your life’. Perhaps the best I can hope for is a widening of these rotations. In my work, I’m inherently drawn to houses that show early signs of neglect. I think my interest reflects an attempt to reconcile with the short-sale of our family home just as my children entered high school – during the worst housing crisis in U.S. history. I still shoulder regret and have been trying to understand this period, circling ‘like a dog staked to a pole’ as the poet Mary Karr would say.

ORDER & BEAUTY

I’m conscious of lowering my head and making work that engages any number of curiosities. Most often, I’m drawn to making order and finding beauty within the confines of my backyard – which equates to roughly 60 square miles. I’m exhaustively slow to visually organise and will experience a landscape repeatedly, sometimes for months on end before I can make a picture that has any possibility of conveying something beyond descriptive.

FLUID NARRATIVES

A well-sequenced book of meaningful pictures has infinite expansive possibility. The narrative, when one is present, is open to current and future readings. It’s fluid, altering with the perception of the viewer over time. Bookmaking also allows me to work across design, editing and sequencing, writing, layout – all of which I love. When the book is worthy, I then have opportunities for rewarding conversations with fellow artists, critics, educators and students. The biggest strides I’ve made have come from such dialogue, where I’ve taken a body of work as far as I could and opened myself to criticism.

PERFORMATIVE PRINTMAKING

It’s essential that I make my prints, whether in the darkroom or digitally. There are definitely interpretive – almost performative – elements to my printmaking. It’s a process that relies heavily on accidents and recovery in both the darkroom and in the field, particularly because I don’t practice with a metered camera or consistently measure in the darkroom. I’m more excited by making work within the constructs of a limited space; a single camera and lens, one film type, analogue printing in lieu of the infinite expanse of photoshop. I also trust what is made within this designed space, in which I leave open the possibility for chance interactions with darkroom chemistry and less predictable outcomes. The less I see of my hand in the final print, the more possibility the image will endure.

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Raymond Meeks

New York, US

MG 5408 smaller

Raymond Meeks

New York, US

Oscillating between family and his expansive backyard, Raymond Meeks’ (b. 1963, USA) work is deeply permeated by literature from the likes of Denis Johnson and Henry David Thoreau, which sees him traversing the American heartlands to capture dilapidated housing and strangely beautiful wastelands. The subject of Meeks’ black and white pictures are informed by the country’s photographic heritage but equally by the uncertainty of the present. Beyond the darkroom, he has published a number of photography books, a means of exhibiting that he resolutely favours.

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