Tuesday, November 6, 2007

rj shaughnessy: deathcamp


i somehow wandered onto rj shaughnessy's website this morning and found images from his book deathcamp.

my insistence on regarding a great deal of photography as diary or memoir probably taints my reading of these images. to describe this work in the most basic terms would be to define it as documentary, but for me they are really the journaling, or as he puts it chronicling, of his coming of age. how sweetly he romanticizes his roommates in not just the images but also the word choice of his artist statement, referring to his clan as a "dozen characters" and his role as "capturing the energy and naivette of the misguided artisans." how old fashioned "artisan" feels here.

he describes, "caught between youth and adulthood...fun as priority, wasted nights, and romantic pursuits." but then, as if to hint at the true consequences of these activities, he unexpectantly titles the series "deathcamp." what a melancholic term.

stylistically speaking (considering for a moment the much darker, grittier images of the drug addled youths that larry clark documented) these images, even when using a harsh, direct flash, offer a sweet and sentimental narrative. i keep thinking of hippie communes. like he's presenting us with his image of utopia. (i seem too often to return to this idea of the artists' collective, probably because i'm such a recluse that i can't relate to this lifestyle in any imaginable way).

i also found a pretty interesting music video directed by shaughnessy here; the shots are really well composed, but i think the editing could use a little work.

deathcamp 9" x 7" softcover book of 152 pages, 100 images

p.s. i started writing this three weeks ago. so when i say "this morning" i'm really talking in relative terms. sorry for such long absenses.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

oh my god. love the deathcamp photos. thanks for the link.