Thursday, April 5, 2007

everyone loves a big fat lie

"It's a lie. It's a bunch of sad strangers photographed beautifully, and... all the glittering assholes who appreciate art say it's beautiful 'cause that's what they wanna see. But the people in the photos are sad, and alone... But the pictures make the world seem beautiful, so... the exhibition is reassuring which makes it a lie, and everyone loves a big fat lie."

Bright and shiny on the surface, no matter how dark and twisty on the inside, the cliché may actually hold--a picture is worth a thousand words. Or more, sometimes. In an age obsessed with photographs, from digital cameras and photo sharing sites to glossy magazines and gossip websites, we make every effort to "capture the moment" perfectly.

Regardless of how imperfect the moment in question is. We smile at the lens, hoping it won't see through our thin veneer, leaving our unhappiness on hold for a second. Oh wait, let's take it again--we give it a second chance.

Our own pictures, all happy and smiley on the surface, hide the truth. We smile for the camera, giving it our best angle, hoping to have nothing lodged between our teeth. And what about those sly shots, taken by someone when they think we are unaware, when we are in fact highly aware of having our picture taken. We portray the persona of who we want to appear to be to the photographer, deceptive through our false candidacy. We pretend we didn't realise we were having our picture taken; but secretly ecstatic in the knowledge that someone wants to capture us.

Our pictures are misleading, only pretending to tell the truth, yet, they remain strangely reassuring. Lonely and terribly afraid of being alone, we hold onto every fleeting moment of feeling desired.

How can a photograph of something so tragic turn into a work of art and beauty? The only explanation is that it doesn't. It exposes a certain humanity, an aspect of humanity that makes us uncomfortable. So we react in the only way we know how; we transpose it into "art", masking the tragedy in the photograph with a supposedly beautifully captured scene. And at the end of the day, that is all it is, merely a scene. The photograph places a barrier between us and its subject, keeping us a safe distance away and freeing us from any guilt as we sashay into pretentious galleries displaying a façade of beautiful art at the expense of deep sadness.

Beauty emerges from tragedy. But does it really, or are we selfishly just looking for one saving grace in hopes that it will make us feel better?

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