I have come to treat performance as a rehearsal for the page, to better understand what the writing wants to do in its final form. “The Photographer” is a serialized work of poetry and criticism in the forms of captions, letters, lectures and slideshows. The text is an accumulation of different problems and situations born from looking at and taking photos. The Photographer, as a character, is someone who borrows and confuses the affects of a leader, journalist, artist and philosopher. They have to contain a multitude. For this incarnation, the audience sat in folding chairs in the middle of the space, and all the action of the four poetic forms happened on the edges of this square. I performed as this multitudinous Photographer, flanked by two Assistants (Stephen Boyer and Alex DeCarli) who wore semi-identical denim outfits. The piece began with captions: the trio of performers stood on stacks of newspapers, rapidly alternating sentences that report voices inside and around unseen photos.
The center of “The Photographer” was a lecture on permission fading from the medium. The Photographer stood behind a podium made of cement, which Alex DeCarli built in the style of a series of sculptures that he made in 2012. Scripted questions from the audience interrupted the lecture with digressions, as if we were at a warped press conference. Several years ago, I performed a series of press conferences from a shopping cart filled with photo junk. This time, I wanted to try using a teleprompter that worked. I thought I was investing in a way to deliver text without having to memorize it, but now I realize it wasn’t that different than reading from papers.
In the third part of the piece, the Assistants had solos as newscasters reading letters from the teleprompter that all began “Dear Photographer.” This was in the style of late-night public-access TV. The piece ended with an analogue slideshow of 80 images I had taken over the past five years of my parents, some friends and surrounding environments. This performance made me interested in just reading poetry and not strenuously performing through poetic forms. Delivering five years of writing that interrogates what it means to be taking pictures has somehow given me permission to be a photographer again. I am currently continuing with slideshow form.