Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Jim Harrison

Jul 23, 2020 - Ian C Bates

The way I make pictures feels a lot like the way a poem comes together. There are little descriptive pieces coerced into a spotty narrative. Not always revealing everything about the subject but suggesting a story. Like poetry, the work can be reflective on personal themes, complete fiction or based entirely in reality.

 

I make lists when going on project trips. The lists can include specific looking people, absurd landscapes and even little jokes. I use the list as a guideline and must pull off the road to photograph or talk to someone who ends up being on the list. The list idea is not unique but mine were greatly informed by a single poem by Jim Harrison. When I first read the poem, the cadence and content felt a lot like what I was looking for and how I was looking for it. I felt it in my gut. It made sense.

 

I Believe

By Jim Harrison

 

I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake

 

in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,

 

the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,

 

used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,

 

abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,

 

gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls

 

who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,

 

leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,

 

turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,

 

the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands

 

of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs

 

that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow

 

me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,

 

the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see

 

from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling

 

to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.