Thursday, May 27, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 26

In the window, Jason and Jennifer, husband and wife extraordinaire. Jason is a fellow U of C MFA-er and Jen works long hours at a not-for-profit in Chicago. I was also given the good fortune of photographing their wedding last year which was a real delight.

For dinner they brought a variety of snacking foods, surrounded by a much loved container of hummus. They drank orange juice with the food, and while it looked like a snack meal, it felt incredibly healthy. Their dinner seemed to revolve most around their game of Scrabble. Based on the board they brought and the posture they held throughout the game, it was obvious this was not an isolated event in their lives. In fact, with this dinner more than any other, I felt as if this is actually what they would be doing at home during dinner though the gallery was just a large window looking into their living room.

In spite of the comfort in their actions, it seemed they were keenly conscious of themselves as being on display. I gathered this from nervous laughter and the way Jen's foot never stopped shaking, tapping and swinging. Then again, those gestures could have easily been natural to their demeanor, speculation abounds.

A man with his baby came out to see the piece for a while. The little boy was on a push cart controlled by the father, so there was never a moment where they stood still on the sidewalk. It felt like speaking with a circling shark, only this shark was being propelled by his son's need to keep moving, not his own. Toward the end of their time with me the father spouted, "It IS art" as if to convince me of the fact. Like I have so many times before, I asked him why he thought so. He said "because it makes me think of other things, like animals at the zoo... and prison."

Not to say I fully understood his logic for that answer, I was interested in where he landed. Further explaining to me, he had spent time locked up on a an assault charge as a young man and there met men who will never be released as long as they live. He recollected the contrast of living life in a way that you are always in view but never actually seen; intensely observed but totally ignored . The place where privacy is abolished and yet everyone is forced to exist in isolation. It was a sad but potent image that I hadn't seen. His experiences gave me a new and pained way of seeing the piece in response to the way many may see their lives, in a physical prison or one made of more silent but equally strong bricks.

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