Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Resurrection of Pinocchio

In this short series of photos we see the familiar and rather somber "found" or I prefer to call it "noticed" aesthetics of Simonson but in this case the work takes a very unexpected turn. We get a strange and wonderfully humorous merging of fairy tale and religious narrative: images of resurrection and recycling. 

A discarded Pinocchio doll is noticed half buried in the tracks of a land mover on the beach of an urban setting (Long Beach.) The implications are that the forgotten doll has washed up after a seasonal storm. The series is sequential in a more cinemagraphic then photojournalist way, or is it? The first few shots are shots of evidence, place, location, time, and situation. Then the fun begins. The doll is lifted up, pulled out of the sand by a source unknown but close at hand (the photographer himself?) The expression on the doll is one of surprise and if not excitement. The next shot is dark, except Pinocchio's eye. Is this a moment of cosmic accounting? A mythic journey to the bottom of the pond or into the cave? And then the doll is flung skyward, spinning, swirling. Again, the facial expression of the doll animates each shot with a sense of humorous wonder. In the final shot the resurrected Pinocchio startles the beach railing. He sits on the fence of the graveyard. Relaxed, redeemed and precariously back, the little Pinocchio sits and waits to be animate again.

There is a need to edit a number of the works in this series but overall the thing that I find so interesting here is the roll of the photographer's hand. One is on the camera recording the visual story; the other is participating with the resurrection. I am aware of the body in this work and the action of the body. From the first shot, the tractor, the doll and the human manipulated landscape to the action of picking up the beach trash, the finding, the dancing, the throwing, the gravity and then the conclusion. The doll found, the doll reclaimed, the doll left to be found again and perhaps this time by a child that is walking along that beach. And here the fairy tale, religious tale repeats itself - a gift from the cosmos all imbedded in a body.

As I was writing this a dear friend sent me a note. In it was this quote. I found it to be quite appropriate in relation to Simonson's work.

"come unto me. Come unto me, you say. All right then, dear my Lord. I will try in my own absurd way. In my own absurd way I will try to come unto you. a project which is in itself by no means unabsurd. Because I do not know the time or place where you are. And if by some glad accident my feet stumble on it, I do not know that I would know that I had stumbled on it. And even if I did know, I do not know for sure that I would find you there. I do not know for sure that it was indeed your name that made my tears come when I wrote it with my finger in the wet. And if you are there, I do not know that I would recognize you. and if i recognized you, I do not know what that would mean or even what I would like it to mean. I do not even well know who it is you summon, myself.

For who am I? I know only that heel and toe, memory and metatarsal, I am everything that turns, all of a piece, unthinking, at the sound of my name. Am where my feet take me. Come unto me, you say. I, all of me, unknowing and finally unknowable even to myself. O lord and lover, I come if i can to you down through the litter of any day, through sleeping and waking eating and saying goodbye and going away and coming back again. Laboring and laden with endless histories heavy on my back."      Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

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