My First Presentation

Photo by: Claire Petra Tanner

Photo by: Claire Petra Tanner

Back in August I got the opportunity to present the first twenty-one pictures in the series at an artist workshop in Santa Fe. It was the first time I'd gotten to speak publicly about the photo project and to do so with a portion of the work actually present. It struck me afterward that every other time I'd ever talked about the project it was always without the images present and so all of the language I'd developed for talking about the work was to describe something you couldn't see, but that now with the images made I needed to learn a new way of talking about them.

One great point from Sarah Thornton's 'Seven Days in the Art World' points out how an artist talking about a work of art is a "parallel dialectic" that never actually intersects with the work. It was said in the context of arts education, but I think it can apply to lectures and presentations by an artist as well.

An artist's thoughts about what they made is a kind of conversation or performance that is separate from what's actually behind a work of art. In addition, even the medium that makes a presentation possible—the photos projected on a screen—is a substantially different experience from seeing the images serially on a gallery wall where the viewer can scan back and forth between several images at a time and contemplate them at their own pace—to create their own sense of cinematic time that they feel is right for the work and for themselves as the viewer. The whole presentation process is so different from the intended experience of the work that it necessitates making something new of the experience for the viewer/listener.

As a result, I think any future presentations I give about the photo project will end up being drafted more as performance than as a lecture with either as a conversation with a curator in which I share anecdotes about the making of the project to entertain those listening or if it's just me an evening of musings with music and quotes from sociology and literature that relate to the work's themes of friendship and romance that hopefully leave the listener thinking.

So I won't even call this first presentation I did a good start. Like all projects we take on let's call this first time a beginning, but at some point we have to grow up from being beginners and mature.