Sliding ScalesIn an essay on Robert Frank, Ian Penman wrote: ‘You are never going to live in some still strange meditative thing-free desert. You are here, and these are your things.’
The theme of the involuntary recurrences, of the mysterious resurgences of subjects in the photographs of different authors and times, is a theme that haunts me since I read The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer.
Photography returns us to the same dumb things over and over. As Dyer observes in his book the same objects recur with uncanny regularity: doorways, barber’s shops, ruins and roads to nowhere. Men in hats and dark overcoats smudge the grey weather in André Kertesz and Dorothea Lange. Chairs, fences, beds and benches rhyme endlessly into the distance in the work of Paul Strand, Brassaï, Edward Weston and Garry Winogrand. Blind beggars step out of August Sander onto subway trains for Bruce Davidson to photograph; doorways open out of Eugène Atget and William Henry F