Artist' s Statement
My son stands in our snow-filled driveway. It’s January, or maybe February, and well into the middle of a Minnesota winter. I have convinced him to go outside. It has taken a great deal of cajoling and a few tears to tear him away from Youtube. It’s well below freezing and it has been for a month. He goes outside on the condition that he can shoot water from his squirt gun to see what happens. Against the gray of snow and clouds, his fluorescent squirt gun practically glows. I love him more than anything, but cabin fever has nearly killed me. I’ve taken my camera with me because aestheticizing this moment is one tiny way of reclaiming a sense of myself in the middle of a difficult afternoon.
As with the other images in this portfolio, this snowy scene with the squirt gun is a diaristic image. The images in this series sometimes blur the line between strict documentation and a personal viewpoint. They are composed, selected, and edited from long afternoons of parenting or mornings after a difficult night. They are also, like a diary, ways of coming to terms with events. They are a way of processing the proud ennui of waiting through another hour of gymnastics or bath time.
Laura Mulvey describes a male gaze in her essay “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema.” For Mulvey, the camera in traditional cinema, acts like a male viewer. It sexualizes and objectifies the women it films. A similar, paternalistic gaze is at work in these images. I am not present as a father in these images of family. However, in every image I am present just beyond the frame inviting the viewer to gaze with me.
In some of these images, that gaze lingers as my wife and son share a moment of intimacy. I am not always sure if I am photographing my family, or soothing some past injury. Chronic disease and divorce left me very close to my own mother, but complicated my childhood experience. Part of the optimistic hubris of starting your own family is that you can correct your parent’s mistakes. Their choices look less like mistakes when you’ve invested some time into your own children.