Attempting to find both energy and focus in this time of plague has been difficult. Time has been granted to us in abundance, but not the serenity to take advantage of that time.
Even as one who was able to keep their job and perform it with little interruption I’ve found it difficult to fight off a feeling of malaise. Its difficult to commit to a course of action, be it the making of dinner, the enjoyment of a novel, the editing of a photograph, or the writing of a short essay. Sadly, the eating of snacks has proven to be entirely too easy a pastime to commit to.
Typical advise for the creatively blocked is to do something else. Attempting to brute force yourself through only leads to a deeply bruised ego and shocking high tabs at your local dive bar. Travel is a frequent suggestion. Go somewhere new. Even if it doesn’t break your creative block at least you go out into the world. And maybe it will work.
In the time of plague what do you do? Shelter in place order remain and in many locations have been reimposed as an upswing in Covid cases continues in various spots around the globe. Travel is not on the agenda
I was reminded of a project from a number of years ago. One Block Radius. It was a psychogeographic project conducted by Glowlab in NYC. It was an in-depth exploration of a single block in Manhattan. Every business, resident, piece of trash, new addition of graffiti was meticulously cataloged. It provided a snapshot in time for a block in the Bowery that was about to undergo radical transformation.
Rather than expand outwards, the project gave itself strict borders and spiraled inwards, documenting a single place at a point in time.
Since the middle of March my world has undergone a similar, non-consentual compression.
For the past two years my photography has focused on flowers as it was a subject that I could work with at my leisure. My work has admittedly been heavily influenced by Robert Mapplethorpe’s own floral portfolio. I do have the advantage of working in digital which allows me to use techniques such as focus stacking to do far closer explorations of a flower’s structure.
My neighborhood is a mixture of apartments and single family homes which results in a variety of gardening environments. The backdrop of apartment building landscaping which favors the absolute minimum in maintenance costs typically features shrubs but does have the enjoyment of self-seeded plants. Foxgloves, daffodils, lavender, and bluebells find their place.
Then there are the unwelcome flora. Clover, dandelion, grasses, thistle. Then at the end of the season, there are the seed heads left when the petals fall away.
Ubiquitous, easy to find, free for the taking, and in many cases available year round.
Now I just need to scrounge up some focus and motivation.