'Storms Past- Hisle Farm'
Thank you Jerry for the beautiful postcard, it’s a treasure and I love it!
Jerry’s photography blog is ‘ordinaryimages’. His art is anything but ordinary so check it out if you aren’t already following this great photographer. I love it because in each image he displays the beauty in the simple things in life and he is one of my tumblr favorites.
Monica (mojo505) is one of the best curators of her own work on Tumblr. Unlike myself, who sends picture after picture across your dashboard in wanton disregard of the fact you have a life, Monica either has a very few pictures to post or a very well trained eye in the assessment of her own work, because she does not post a lot and what she does post is, for me, always an event. Every picture from Monica calls for a hush! and some contemplation. What is she up to now?
This picture is not untypical. Barbed wire (and fences of all kinds) run as a theme throughout her work. You can find her experimenting with barbed wire here and here and here and in stolen moments , which may be her best work—it is certainly one of my favorites— and I want to talk about it in a second, but I can’t reblog two posts at the same time. So do me a favor and open up stolen moments in a new window and hang onto it for a second. (It is a great picture, you won’t regret it.)
What is striking, for me, about this picture—the one I have reblogged here—is that it is a tale of two fences or, to be more precise, two kinds of fence, and the contrast between them. One, barbed wire, is potentially dangerous and scary; it makes anyone determined to ignore it bleed. It is a symbol of the destruction of the free range, the sharing of a common resource, thanks to the greed of human beings, who are determined to own and control what should belong to all of us—the earth under our feet. (If you don’t think the human ownership of land has consequences, read your Faulkner; I suspect Monica has.) The other, a wooden fence, is no less a barrier, no less a sign of restraint, possession, ownership, but gentler in its application. You can climb over a wooden fence or in this case, slip through the opening on the right. That’s the point, isn’t it? One kind of fence is gentler and kinder than the other.
Or is it? The photograph is more or less dark, depending precisely on how you read it. The title, “common ground,” confuses the issue for me, and in a wonderfully productive way. Is the idea that the ground should be “common” and it’s not, or that the ground is about to become more so, thanks to the fact that the barbed wire is simply hanging on the post and the wooden fence is no longer an effective barrier with its missing slat? For whatever reason, the ground is about to become more common? The fact that the grass is ignoring both kinds of barrier suggests this. Both kinds of fence are ineffectual when it comes to grass. There is something to be learned there.
Or is the title ironic? The real common ground, the only common ground in a fallen world, is that both the wooden fence and the barbed wire do the same thing: divide, separate, keep out, exclude. That is one thing they can agree on; that’s their “common ground.” The barbed wire hangs there menacingly, an end sticking out, phallic like, inviting anyone to redeploy it. It partially blocks the opening on the right: it could easily be used to repair it. Even in disuse it is a threat. Still, the grass is making a mockery of it all: happily ignoring both barriers. Louisiana can be a dangerous place: nothing is ever simple there.
This is a great photograph.
Now take a look at stolen moments. Our friend the barbed wire is back, here fully deployed in a reflection on water, and being encompassed, attacked, subverted—what is it?—by the tendrils of the vine growing on it. The contrast of course is between the organic, wild, chaotic, friendly harmless vine and the strict, linear, very unfriendly barbed wire, here, though, being made—what?—beautiful, less harmful, by the vine, so completely immune to whatever dangers the wire represents to the rest of us? Nothing is ever simple in Louisiana.
This is another great photograph.
I am thankful for Monica’s photography, and you should be to.
This is one of the nicest things anyone on tumblr has ever done, and I thank you Ned very much. When I first read the post about this project I thought, what a great idea! I never dreamed I’d find one of my pictures here.
It feels so good having Ned do this for me that I plan to do it also, stay tuned…it could be YOU!