Found Tableaux

Like many other people, I've spent countless hours wandering through flea markets, yard sales and antique stores. Sometimes in search of specific items. Other times trailing along in my wife's wake. There was a period in the 1970's when I would frequent a large outdoor market in New Jersey, specifically to photograph. What interested me doing those early morning visits were the people and the junk they bought and sold. Other than that brief burst of creativity, I've never brought or at least, used a camera while shopping.

All of that changed during the spring of 2002. Perhaps it was the first burst of warm spring weather while attending long unvisited antique markets in New Jersey; or it might have been the possession of a new camera that caused me to look at a familiar scene differently. In any event, rather than seeing individual objects I was struck by what surrounded them on the sales tables. Sometimes it seemed that the sellers had no clue as to what they were placing next to each other – other times their intentions screamed out loud. But what always spoke to me was the figure, human and otherwise, and how was it presented and what surrounded it.

So this body of work began. I see it as a continuation of those early black and white photographs from Englishtown, NJ. I also see this body of work as a continuation, in a weird sort of way, with a series from the 1980's titled "Schizophrenic Architecture." That was a body of work devoted to portraits of row houses in Trenton, NJ that, over the years had been altered, fixed-up and customized by their individual owners to the point that the two, once identical halfs had become harlequins. The individual objects in "Found Tableaux", because of their placement on a table, deliberate or otherwise, likewise become part of a greater whole as they lose some of their individuality.

Once this series began to take shape, I found myself being inspired by the European tradition of still-life painting. Not that I have ever been an admirer of the still life. Rather, I quietly enjoyed a certain satisfaction thinking about those painters who would presumably spends hours arranging objects until they were worthy of paint and canvas, while I went in search of tableaux, arranged by strangers, just for me.

I am not some solemn seeker of truth or Freudian devotee. Rather I'm just an ordinary person with a camera, looking for something to make me laugh.

These photographs were taken with a digital camera. However I remain an adherent to straight photography. I have not moved or altered any of the objects in these images. Likewise, other than making minor color adjustments, the final prints are neither cropped, altered or enhanced in any way that distorts the original image. What you see is what I found.