COLUMN SIXTY-EIGHT, FEBRUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Importance of Being by
Christopher Felver, Arena Editions (447pp.) $60
(Photo by Myles Aronowitz)
(? Myles Aronowitz)
is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.This kind
of photography is realism. But realism is not enough---there has to be vision
and the two together can make a good photograph. It is difficult to describe
this thin line where matter ends and mind begins."
Ginsberg, Robert Frank's student, understood this and occasionally, in his
photographs, more often in his poems, achieves his teacher's directive,
especially in his photographs of his sometimes lover and always friend William
S. Burroughs. Christopher Felver, a student of Ginsberg, Frank and others, in
his newest book, The Importance of Being, reveals that he understands
what Robert Frank teaches. Felver shows, in 421 soul filled images, that the
student has become a Master.
aspect The Importance of Being is high art. Black and white and
And that's to
mention only 150 of the 421 phtographs which can't really be identified as
portraits because each shot glimpses the heart and soul of the individual on the
page. A warm glow flows from image to viewer. Felver has the genius artist
ability to not only know all the details of light and lens he also has the old
soul wisdom of one who recognizes and opens the soft heart. I have traveled with
Chris in Europe and the USA. He recently stopped to visit here in Kentucky where
he took photos of Brother Patrick Hart and me at Thomas Merton's grave at The
Abbey of Gethsemani. A Ulyssean wanderer Chris is uncanny in every way. Work and
play aren't in his vocabulary. He lives and breathes creative energy. He lives
his dream. He is so subtle in his approach to his art as to nearly be invisible.
It's as if the spring sun a spring breeze arrives. His subject relaxes and
opens. A positive, harmless, even healing energy is present when Chris is
creating. Suddenly it's over. He's done. No time has been lost. And although
each and every image he creates is intimate no one feels that their privacy has
been invaded. The humanity, the vision of the moment is captured in the work of
art, the photograph. No need to describe the "thin line." It is gone.
Matter and mind have merged, they are one.
Felver is indeed a Master. His photographs and documentary films have recently
been featured in solo exhibitions at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris and
Torino Fotographia Biennale Internzionale in Italy. He was a participant in the
53rd Venice International Film Festival. In 2000, a retrospective of his films
was held at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and Donald Judd's
Marfa Texas was screened at The Smithsonian. In 2002 Thunder's Mouth Press will
release two new books by Christopher Felver: the first will be shots of Allen
Ginsberg, the second will be photos of The New Rebels.
Whitehead will read his poems in Katmandu, Nepal and on Mt. Everest in April and
May for the UN's Poetry On The Peaks global event. David Amram will be his
musical accompanist. When not traveling Ron lives in Kentucky.
(Poetry On The Peaks then Mountains &
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