Friday, January 16, 2009

comfort in affinity

Yesterday I went to Galerie René Blouin to see a tribute exhibition of Betty Goodwin's work. It seemed a fitting place to go and pay homage because René Blouin was a great friend of Betty Goodwin's and represents her work (as well as the work of another of my favourite artists, Kiki Smith).

There were prints, assemblage, sculpture, drawings, and paintings. The smallest work in the show caught my eye. While I am quite familiar with much of Betty Goodwin's work, I hadn't encountered this piece before. It was a small plexiglass box with the skeleton of a small bird attached by wire to a metal plate and a handful of long black hair coiled like a nest beneath it. The bird's skeleton was mostly exposed with some evidence of dried flesh. It was exquisite. Typical of Betty Goodwin's work, it was stark yet tenderly vulnerable.

I was drawn to the tiny pearlescent feet of the bird and was immediately taken back a few months ago to a bird that flew into our window and did not survive. At that time, I was moved by the fragile beauty of this dead bird and I photographed it. Revisiting these photos, triggered by and connected to the piece I viewed yesterday, and experienced in the state of melancholy that I have been inhabiting lately, gives me great comfort. I share some of those photos with you now and perhaps the emotion which accompanies them.



8 comments:

notmassproduced said...

saw a kiki smith exhibition a few years ago - love her work too

these photographs are beautiful and it's strange to me that death can look so

Jo Horswill said...

Kate, I wish I could have visited Galerie René Blouin with you, to see Betty Goodwins work...but, I think I am luckier and happier to see your photographs.
Beautiful work, Kate...
How lucky I am to be reading this post with 3 of my favorite artists....Kiki, Betty & Kate!

Megan Coyle said...

these photos are absolutely beautiful--the curling of the bird's feet in the first photo really do give you a sense of the animal's vulnerability. Well done.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Kate, Your photos of the little bird are so delicate... why does death stop my heart and make me so sad.. it seems that I feel every creatures breath halt.. sometimes I wish I could unhook that part of me...

I wish there was no death...

I am glad you are blogging again.. although I wonder all the time If I will post one more thing... then I hesitantly do... then I wonder again...

rivergardenstudio said...

I find these photographs so vulnerable but peaceful as well. You have captured so much... I need to visit some art galleries. Roxanne

lynne h said...

kate, this foot touches me deeply... i think i can imagine how exquisite the bird's skeleton in the plexiglass box must have been... xo

mansuetude said...

oh i want too to enter that gallery! Love the bird images; i did a whole series on color slide way back, some people took offense and at a small exhibit i heard a woman say there is the girl who photos dead birds, it was such an intimate experience, really. Tender feathers, tiny quiet.

Whenever i photo something i always feel i enter it.

thanks for this.

kate said...

kate...although I knew of the work of kiki smith, I once stumbled on an exhibition of hers and was just stunned by her work in person. I've been a huge fan ever since. So glad you love her too! And I agree with you that death can be a thing of beauty...strangely.

jo...wow! I never imagined I would see my name written in the same breath with kiki smith and betty goodwin. Thanks for the honour.

megan...the curling feet are my favourite part of the photograph as well. They have a heartbreaking vulnerability.

gwen...you brought tears to my eyes, you sensitive soul. I think being hypersensitive is a painful gift. Lately I am struggling with a decision which in my mind is an acceptance of my lows and deeps versus a move towards the surface of the happiness line and perhaps diminishing pain, but losing the deeps which make me who I am. Your comments resonate with me.

roxanne...so glad you loved the photographs. Sometimes getting to a gallery is a bit of a struggle but it's so good for the soul and for inspiration.

lynne...I know in my heart of hearts that you would have loved the bird skeleton. It would have been nice to see it with you. I'm sure you would have had an interesting perspective on what it held.

mansuetude...a fellow dead bird photographer - how comforting! I suppose some people's fear of death is an obstacle to seeing the beauty and tenderness in it. It's a shame. I'm with you on the state of entering in a photograph. When I look through my lens I feel like I'm in another world. One that is better and deeper and wiser.