Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Michael Kenna: The Photograph As Sense Memory
Michael Kenna’s subdued black-and-white imagery offers respite from the world, for photographer and viewer alike
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Cat Ba Island Boats, Halong Bay, Vietnam (2008)
"I had been an altar boy for many years," he says, "and greatly enjoyed the rituals of baptisms, masses, funerals. I loved spending time in churches. I went to a seminary boarding school and spent the next seven years there, studying to become a priest. However, once I became a teenager, I realized perhaps it wasn't what I wanted to do after all. I really didn't know what to do. The one thing I seemed to be quite good at was art."
Ultimately, a photograph, no matter how lovingly made, is an exercise in certain precise technical procedures. For his part, Kenna has mastered the techniques that fill his images with the calming, spiritual feel that his artistic vision dictates. To do this, he relies on the peculiarities of the photographic process.
It seems everything I experienced as a child would later become photographic subject matter, he says.
Night Light, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, (2009)
"I try to photograph what's both visible and also invisible but sensed," Kenna adds, "memories, traces, atmospheres, stories, suggestions. I like to think that what's actually visible and photographed acts as a catalyst for our imagination to access the unseen. Empty isn't sad to me; it's a state of being opposite to being full. Emptiness can be a state of meditation that we should sometimes try to reach. We live busy, cluttered lives, and some moments of complete calm—when we can put aside all the cares and baggage of our lives—cannot help but be a healthy respite. It's a form of freedom, an oasis, a point of recharging."
You can see more of Michael Kenna's photography by visiting his website at www.michaelkenna.net.
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