“He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.”
– Cortez the Killer. Neil Young. 1975.
This will be my last post as a guest blogger for The Art21 Blog. It has been a good journey revisiting my summer in Ireland. Lots of great folks were met and memories to be kept for sure.
I had intended to get two more posts in before the end of the week. The first was to be on a film I saw while in Ireland called the Mexican Suitcase by Trisha Ziff. The second an ode to a lost friend. The Ziff film was an intriguing exploration of the legendary “lost” negatives of Robert Capa, Gerta Taro, and David “Chim” Seymour from the Spanish Civil War. The film was screened as part of the Photo Ireland Fest and was featured as part of a larger panel discussion tackling ideas regarding migration, exile and ownership (Thanks go to Martin for moderating the discussion and to Ann for the event tips!). In this failed post I was attempting to reconcile the notion of the foreigner or the migrant with my short stint abroad and my previous posts about distance through both time and miles. On my train ride home this evening, I realized I just did not have it in me to get this idea together because my mind kept pulling me towards my intended last post. In December of this past year I lost my good friend Matt quite unexpectedly to a brain aneurysm. This is for him.
I took this photo late one night wandering through Dublin. I often find myself taking pictures that I wish I could send him or even photos that I think he might’ve tried to take himself. Matt took photos like the one above often. His were, and are, better. He sent a few through the years to me as well as to others in his confidence.
Matt and I met in 1999 in Chicago. We bonded over the 1960’s band the Small Faces of all things. Although we’re both artists and fellow Hoosiers, it was music that made us fast friends. Many people who knew Matt can speak to a similar shared experience that cemented their friendship as well. We did many things together during the short time we got to know each other. He helped me out on too many projects to mention, and we spent more than a few weekend nights wandering around his neighborhood either looking for something to do or merely waiting until it was time to go home. Sometimes we would just sit and listen to music. Sometimes I could drag him to art openings. Often our time was spent waiting to go see a band that happened to be coming through town.
Matt completed a piece for a project I had organized a few years earlier called Filler. It was a 7-inch record that included four tracks by four like-minded folks. For his submission he gave me a short field recording of the North Sea and a somber black and white photo of him somewhere on its shores. He was holding a bouquet of flowers. It was for Bas Jan Ader, an artist we both admired greatly. Here’s what it looks like.
I really appreciate that I got a chance to know Matt and can only wish upon the things left undone and for all the things left to my memory. Not a single day goes by that I can’t recall something he said or instances when he gave me that knowing look that only your good pals can give you.
Photography allows us to migrate freely through time and space stuck in this reverie but the act of looking and remembering allows us to re-live. It is here in this memory that we harvest the unearthly fact that maybe it is we the living who are stuck in time, for these images, memories and artifacts shall live on forever. The distance between Matt and myself now is interminable yet immediate. He is with me now more than ever and I can only thank the stars above that the stars are out and will forever be.
See evidence of his work:
(*title in parenthesis lifted lovingly from Robert Wyatt)