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Robert Asman: Sacred But Not Profound

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Photography and Text by Robert Asman, Copyright 2018

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SACRED BUT NOT PROFOUND

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While photographing on the streets, I am constantly aware of what a powerful sacred purpose of historical consequence our city Philadelphia hosts.  In the past, I was trying to capture people, places, and things that grasped my curiosity and maybe contained an iota of profundity or gravitas. I also felt at times that the street was more of a studio than my real indoor studio, but definitely a special place with so much contemporary history ubiquitously piled on the old.  My concern with this work was to see what a scene would look and feel like photographed on black and white film and made into a silver print which would often have a humorous, sad, or poignant depth, structure, and surface.  Similarly, the finishing drama of the nude is played out in the darkroom in conjunction with solitude and the transcendent chemistry, physics, light, and silver. Just a simple act of birthing, not unlike the street photograph or landscape discovery making this work and process visual and experiential poetry without the struggle for words and narrative algorithms.

I recall back in pre-2000 my assignment was going to be photographing the city for a decade on larger format film (2.25″x”3.25) to capture the visual feel of the city in the new millennia.  I wasn’t quite sure how I would print them or what they would look like so I let history play out, and then it presented itself like a meteorite explosion.  The 9/11 Tragedy which was reaking of incredulity, surrealism, pain, disbelief, and sadness changed my entire conception of  what the world could be.  That event also dramatically changed my perceptions of the future as well as history.  At the time Lil’ Bush was appointed President.  Of course Lil’ Bush was moved out of the way except for ceremonial functions and the neocons took over our military and banking systems and we have had War ever since in the Mid East of all places.  Another consequence of the Wars to the nation was further social segregation and polarization of the classes with the “haves” reaping huge proportions of the wealth in garish displays of tastelessness while the poor got poorer.  This dynamic has lasted until today…endless wars, economic crashes, and garish wealth transfers and Donald Trump, a pitiful TV actor, is being made  the symbol for it.  That being the reality, the prints I made were very heavy and brooding.  The images (silver toned prints) were embedded in a warm matte Agfa Portriga paper that were selenium toned and bleached before being soaked in tea to give it an ambiance of yellow haze and a heavy sorrow.  The entire body of work is much about our present and history using the City of  Philadelphia as a metaphorical dramatic stage set for the plight of our nation’s  future.

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged war.”

Sun Tzu

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About The Author: For most of the last thirty-five years, Robert Asman has been devoted to investigating and stretching the conceptual and technical boundaries of silver prints.  As an alchemist of the dark room, Asman’s creations come to form in the darkroom through the boundless manipulation of paper negatives and chemicals.  His explorations and technique bind human form, urbanism and nature.  Asman approaches art making as a transformative process, in which he mines the physical properties of his materials to create a work on paper in which process and image are one.

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To see additional photography by Robert Asman, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/gallery/robert-asman-the-alchemist/

 

This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture.

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