There will be a short gap in these posts about the process behind “The Garden”. This week’s article was supposed to be about the book launch, which was scheduled to happen the third week of May. But circumstances changed (as they tend to do), and the launch won’t be happening until June 3rd.
So this week I’m going to briefly write about another project I recently finished: “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah.” A project that had a very different genesis, and followed a different process than “The Garden.”
After all, there’s more than one way to do a photo project.
Of course we all have our aesthetic proclivities, areas of interest and ways of working. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s always wiggle room, always (if you stop to think about it) ways to allow the subject, and your relationship to it, to seep into the process. If your subject is a round peg but all you’ve got is a square hole, and you just jam that peg into that hole, it’ll never feel or fit right.
So what are the differences between the making of the “The Garden” and “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah”?
In a nutshell . . .
With “The Garden” I had an idea and set about to photograph it.
My approach was quite considered (in a fluid way). I knew (loosely) what and how I’d need to photograph to make the project “work”. Over a period of several months I shot almost a thousand photos. The subject matter was quite diverse.
Then I spent several more months editing it all down to 51 images, which were woven into a complex sequence akin to a fairy tale. Months after that “The Garden” will finally appear on my website and as a book.
On the other hand, “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah” was a reaction to specific circumstances.
March of this year I found myself in an apartment in Casablanca, Morocco. For reasons I won’t go into here, that situation caused me a certain amount of existential angst; I felt alien and removed. It was that combination of place and feeling that led to the project.
“77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah” was conceived, shot, post-produced and sequenced very quickly. I photographed (on and off) for 3 days, mostly from one specific vantage point. The post production and sequencing took another week. I published the complete project (in my newsletter) the day after it was finished. Ten days in total, start to finish. Done.
(If you want further details, Andrew Molitor (one of the most interesting (and iconoclastic) photo critics writing these days) published a very insightful critique/analysis of the project. You can read it here. As well, I want to thank Rob for publishing the complete project here. I asked him if we should just show a few of the images and provide a link to the project. He responded, “We’re running all the photos. It’s always worth experimenting.”)
I don’t travel to seek out the sights. I travel to just be wherever I am.
I’ll walk to the edge of the place, to neighbourhoods and industrial areas. I’ll sit and look and feel. I might think.
Photography doesn’t have much of a role in this endeavour. In fact, it often impedes, distracts, restricts. It often insists on a pro forma reaction.
But in Casablanca I found myself in a situation where a project fell into my lap or, more accurately, my brain. It seemed right. It has hardly anything to do with Morocco.
I became obsessed with the apartment where I was staying. 77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah, the 7th floor.
A terrace runs its length, it has views to the south and the west that completely occupied me. I only left the building to get food.
Time passed, life went on.