Last night I attended an excellent photo lecture by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center in affiliation with the New Center for Arts and Culture at the BU Photonics Center. (Photonics Center?? What goes on at such a place?) And after, I was able to join some PRC people for dinner with Max and Andrea. (Yes, he’s the child of Bernd & Hilla Becher, but we weren’t there to talk about them.)
A married couple, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher work individually as well as collaboratively using photography, film, video, and digital media, to create highly conceptual and critically acclaimed images. The primary focus of their work is, what they call, “the transportation of place” — situations in which one limited or isolated place strongly resembles another distant one. Whether the subject is Germany in Africa, Germans dressing as Native Americans, American towns dressed as Germany, New York in Las Vegas, New York in Cuba, or Cuba in exile, their interest tends to be a place out of place with its various causes and consequences. They will discuss examples of this work from their two recent books Transportation of Place and Brooklyn Abroad .
I won’t go on at length about their work, you can check it out yourself (buy the book buy the book) but I will mention what was a somewhat offhand comment – Becher or Robbins said, “In order not to go blind, you have to travel” (it’s characteristic of them that which one said what is not entirely clear after the fact, and they have no interest in helping you figure it out) Meaning that if you stay in one place too long, you cease to really see it, and that only by traveling to new places and returning can you maintain real vision of your own place.
You can see that this idea appeals to me.
Among other great topics of conversation and presentation, Robbins & Becher showed photos and short film about St. Pierre & Miquelon, a small island part of France that’s located in North America just off Newfoundland. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about American islands or towns that dress up as French or have French heritage, this place is in fact part of France (see how they voted in the recent French election!) just 800 miles Northeast of Boston. I must visit.
And finally, I found this on Becher’s web site. Early work, but I must cite it here because it speaks to so many limeduckian themes: Chocolate Broadway. I can see the block where I grew up.