The way they look

Halfstory Halflife – Raymond Meeks

This is the first photobook review I make. Well – I wouldn’t say it’s a review, more like my impression and opinions about this book. My way of learning to bridge what I read and verbalising them – reaching a much deeper state of visual literacy, which is to analyse and to interpret what these photographs mean. And – to make sense of the narrative which the artist is trying to write.

I have, never heard of Raymond Meeks before this book came out. And I’ve only started collecting photobooks maybe 1/2 year ago. Through friends and mentors, I’ve got to know about Chose Commune the french publisher and learned about the books they produce.

First I was drawn to Meek’s book by his double black and white photographs of the boys running up the woods. An escape maybe, but also a sense of calm to me. They were timeless images. And then I was totally intrigued by the images of boys falling into these deep dark holes. Reading the synopsis before reading the book is not quite a good a idea, because mentally I would already link that to boys jumping into the water, and I don’t separate that with what the photographs themselves are showing. But when I do detach myself from what information was given before, I can feel these outer-worldly images, of these boys maybe falling off into space, or in some dark galaxy, or maybe into some parallel universe that we don’t know of.

After all, these young men throw themselves into a water that is unseen, a water that we can only presume as the pale bodies glisten with wet droplets. There is only an engulfing blackness, its mystery heightened by these unfolding cycles. In this void, the past, present and future intertwine. There is no beginning nor end.

These photographs shows bravery, courage and anxiety of these boys and few girls. With context of these teenage boys, one would think that they are escaping the reality of growing up. Yet interestingly with the edit of the images, the images follow the jumping were parts of their hometown – the very reality they need to face. The repetitive images of them running up the path, pondering before the jump and jumping seems like a ritual, a ritual to try and try again, until maybe something better comes up. Yet reality is still here, full-frontal facing us.

This work of Meek’s is showing the kind of adolescence phase we all had, and we can easily project ourselves into being one of them, and experiencing that all over again.

Interview with Meeks:


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