Commentary by Bruce Berman
The Relics of Light and Shadow series is an ongoing project since 2010.
From the very beginning of my life in photography I’ve always spent a lot of time “out there,” in the backlands of America. One of my first published pieces (October 1969) was for the Christian Science Monitor (I was their Midwest photographer, based out of Chicago, from 1969 thru 1973). It was a piece I did on the coming of the fallow harvest times of the Midwest, showing images of the solitude that comes with the coming of winter, locking down hearth and home, the time when “it,” the harsh wintertime, is coming and all you can do is get yourself ready for “it.”
The backlands are still out there. But there’s less of them. There are still rural (more or less) places in America but every few places where “The Grid” of Family Dollar, Diamond Shamrock, McDonald’s Taco Bell or Dairy Queen haven’t laid down their marker. A certain texture is going going gone. The old Americas has been, slowly but surely, scooped up. It’s been photographed and rejiggered. A lot of it is hanging over bars and restaurants, in places like Austin and Madison, Gainseville and Davis. It exists but it isn’t alive.
The Relics of Light and Shadow series explores the backlands -and the frontlands of Urbania as well. But really, more truthfully, this work is about my escape, pleasure, precision, order, process, surprise, memory and acceptance. Time has passed. It all started with the light and will end in the shadows.
This work is not so much about what’s left, but, rather, about what’s out there, seen sharply, the interaction of land and air and the mulch of the passing of America’s first two and a half centuries.
The Relics series is about what’s left of me and my little pleasures, about the happy act of photography, which is nothing more or less than an act of affirmation, a soft whispering of “I am still here, in one stage of being or another.”
But then, aren’t we all?