1 Jan 2011

Fly (or fall) lightly into the New Year



I am not a great fan of the forced and stupidly frenzied "New Year's" celebrations. One should be free to party when one feels like it, and not when the masses do so, or feel that they should do so. And over-eating on this or any other occasion is revolting, indecent and quite avoidable. So I have decided to tiptoe into the new year with images that seem to float, paying hommage on the way to the photographic work of Ryan McGinley. I owe my discovery of his work, as with several other things about which I have spoken on this young blog, to one who goes by the name of VonSontag and his considerable serendipitous work at(http://www.ledepassionne.com/)

Ryan McGinley is a young (born in 1977) photographer, working in the USA. His attraction for apparently weightless images could come from the fact that he was/is a skateboarder, but other images than the ones I show in this article reveal that he has many other things to say as a photographer.  Some of the themes/inspirations that strike me as being very recurrent in his work are, first of all, a wonder at nature and the scale it gives to the human body, which is seen as an element of nature and as something quite fragile, often dwarfed and shaped by the elements. He photographs the naked bodies of adolescents or young adults in a totally non-pornographic way. They are beautiful or not, they may be moving or not, but they are clearly not erotic objects. They are fragile, and sometimes lost, possibly redeemed by their surroundings. The body falling, flying, or just poised to take off, is also a recurrent theme. The surrounding element can be air, water, wind, rocks, or include other objects or bodies. We do not know what will happen after these moments which seem poised but portentous, maybe tragic, maybe wonderful.






There is to me a constant wonder as to the reality and durablity of life in McGinley's pictures. They are (mostly) deliberately posed, as he says that this saves him much time. I can believe this! Humans are a part of nature, yet seemingly a transient part, moving through the landscape, living it intensely but never owning it. Yet there is no sign of the current and annoying mania for ecological mawkiness here. Joy of life abounds in many or most of his images.









McGinley's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums on both sides of the Atlantic, but it would seem that it was the Whitney Museum of Modern Art that gave him his first big break by showing his work in 2003. In the same year, he was also named Photographer of the Year by American Photo Magazine.




If you like these images, or are intrigued by them, please take a look at his website: http://ryanmcginley.com/

And, in any case, step carefully into the New Year