In 2009 I began traveling around America reshooting (as close as possible) Stephen Shore's seminal body of work Uncommon Places. Shore was my photography professor at Bard College and the head of the Photography Department in which I was a student. Stephen kicked me out of Bardís photo program because he thought I was lying about the passing of my father. At the time I was making a body of work titled I'll Be Seeing You Soon, a project that focused on the passing of my father and served as an attempt to better navigate and understand my emotions around his death. Using Stephen Shore as an emotional springboard I began to re-shoot Uncommon Places.
Uncommon Places set a benchmark for exploring spaces and attaching location to a feeling of searching and ambiguous personal importance. It is this personal importance that has offered me hope as to the continuation of Iíll Be Seeing You Soon. The places I searched for, the people I sought out, and the chasing of my fatherís ghost from house to cemetery did not quell the flames of confusion that still course through me. By taking on someone elseís journey will I hope(d) to douse these flames, or at least address the scars they have left behind.
Will the images I create hold up when taken out of the context of Uncommon Places or do they stop there? By hunting in an infinite fashion for something that has a finite end (1979 is the year of his last recorded image from this series) am I driving myself into a guaranteed dead end? Within these walls and the viewfinders I have chosen will I find answers to the questions that Iím asking? Are those questions lost with my father passing, or by practicing the discipline he practiced making replicas of images that were originally created when he was a young man am I reliving a past that never existed.
As I started shooting this project, traveling from prescribed location to prescribed location, I tried to don Shoreís cloak of cool objectivity not considering if he found what he was looking for in his making of Uncommon Places. Differing in working conditions, making experiential photographic decisions during my journey, emotionally, how has this project affected me? Do I have any peace around my fatherís death? Is there any larger understanding? The answer to the last two questions is an emphatic no. At this point in my shooting I still do not know what I am searching for. I no longer feel the need to. The determination to finish what I have started and hopefully offer this body of work as a tool to those who find themselves in similar situations is enough. The opportunity to speak to people that are searching for a dream long since passed is as I am is something I relish. Along the way I make photographs.