William Eggleston at The Corcoran Gallery

July 26th, 2009
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The reason we went down to DC last weekend was to see the William Eggleston exhibit at The Corcoran Gallery. The event is part of a traveling show sponsored by The Whitney. I missed it in New York last year, largely because I’d never heard of him before I started taking classes at ICP.
Once I had, I realized that Eggleston has deeply influenced everything I’ve ever tried to do as a photographer without me even knowing it. His focus on everyday details and objects, the ‘democratizing’ effect that this exhibit was named after is the basis of everything that has inspired me to shoot. But I had no idea. At least not until I heard about him in class.
The work was amazing. Beyond the subjects, which I still cling to when making and viewing photographs, his composition did things I barely understand.
After we walked out of the exhibit, there was a performance art piece, above, in the lobby. These people were singing and screaming and falling down -and up- the stairs. I had no idea of it’s ‘meaning,’ I’m entirely unfamiliar with such things. But it sort of captured how I felt after seeing Eggleston’s work: Devastated.
It left me suddenly aware of the ‘unknown unknowns’ that Donald Rumsfeld spoke of. That is, it made me aware of not just how much I had to learn, but how much I had to learn that I didn’t know I had to learn.
To my discredit, I let these things intimidate me. I’ve barely shot any thing since seeing this exhibit. Admittedly, it’s been a hectic, pre-trip week, so it’s not all nerves. But I hope to spend some time shooting during my off time while out here and getting over my self-confidence issues.

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