Notes from the Stone-Paved Path: Meditations on North India (2003)
"When I get to a new place… I want to learn what it is I didn't know I would see." -Barry Lopez, naturalist, writer
Memory is a fragmentary collection of experience. It is a singular assortment of interrelated, sometimes contradictory encounters with the everyday world. Photography helps piece together this disparate array. It vindicates experience. It acknowledges and interrogates reality. It is my paper memory.
To give form to that which is inherently intimate and incomplete, I try to find ways for photographs to work with other ideas, collaborating with a broader range of observation. In this recent body of work, disparate images from a sojourn in north India are paired with pages of text from diverse sources. By joining the two—photographs from the real world with photographs of book pages—I intend to initiate a dialogue. It is a contemplative approach, a meditation, one that aims beyond the specific qualities of visual insight or written word.
Our perceptions are conditional upon the information we have to apply to them. These photo-text pairs are presented as paths to further exploration. Just as I followed numerous trails during my wanderings in north India, these diptychs traverse a vast territory in pursuit of unfamiliar vistas ("to learn what it is I didn't know I would see").
Each impression, each image, each page of text is, by definition, a highly edited, subjective view of a real place or idea. In this way, the book pages were retrieved in much the same manner as the photographs—through exploration, serendipity, revelation. Both quote from a much larger context.
Even though I was in India for nearly a year, and not as a tourist (I lived and worked in the Tibetan community, near Dharamsala), it is difficult, impossible really, to create any comprehensive statement about such a vast subject. It is easy for the outsider to focus on the constant jumble of activity in India, the colorful whirling of myriad cultures. Tibetan society is likewise prey to stereotypes of the ineffable, and laments of lost horizons.
My photographs and their literary corollaries seek a quieter focus: to give voice to the elemental and obscure, to reveal a questioning affection for life at its most immediate and mundane.
A review of the project by James Hugunin, in his art journal e-zine "Uturn," can be found at- http://www.uturn.org/Koch/krevu.htm