photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
i took this PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS my senior year. it was at a public school in a SACRAMENTO suburb that my uncle taught at and i was there in the wake of 9/11 as my family decided it was better for me not to be with them in KUWAIT during that tense GEOPOLITICAL MOMENT. i remember being beside myself with boredom in this class and feeling ISOLATED. there was this assignment i had to complete which entailed taking someone's portrait. now at the time i didnt know anybody so i turned that relative ANONYMITY to my advantage. right before the shutter opened id gently toss a candy bar or tennis ball i stole from physical ed at my subject. what i got were these looks of genuine SURPRISE and/or FEAR in my photographs. funny enough i won an award for them at the end of the year.
THE INCOMPARABLE ROSE HARTMAN (GRAVITAS VENTURES, 2016) follows the NOTORIOUS celebrity photographer ROSE HARTMAN, known for her ability to take exquisitely COMPOSED and EMOTIVE photographs under less-than-stellar lighting conditions at OPENINGS, GALAS and PRIVATE PARTIES, some she was invited to and others not so much. in some ways her objective was not dissimilar than my own, capturing that PERFECT MOMENT when the subject has UNVEILED themselves and made apparent, however briefly, their TRUE SELVES and not some PREPARED MASK or PRACTICED PUBLIC PERSONA. the details of the NYC NIGHTCLUB, GLITERATI and HIGH SOCIETY events is not something i find terribly interesting or COMPELLING, but the idea of subterfuge and pressing forth into EXCLUSIVE SPACES where one was not invited to capture a FLEETING MOMENT perfectly seems absolutely THRILLING. it should be noted that HARTMAN is not a member of the PAPARAZZI in that she is not looking to embarrass, diminish or expose her subject for short term gain in a low-brow tabloid. she is much more interested in documenting the nighttime FANTASY WORLD that she has come to term the "CHIFFON JUNGLE" of which she is involved in but a exactly a part of. its quite an INTERESTING dynamic at play.
the other COMPELLING dynamic on fully display throughout the documentary is her unrelentingly DOMINATING personality. HARTMAN comes off as a force of nature as she browbeats the director as well as revelers at her own showing, making sure full well that she and her work at the forefront of everyone's attention. its a personality quirk that is easy to mock and betrays some deep need for CONFIRMATION, as if controlling people is a substitute for AFFECTION. there is something DISTURBING and even TRAGIC about that dynamic, as if HEISENBERG's UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE is put into practice in the SOCIAL SPHERE, i.e. she can affect people's behavior but at the core is still on the periphery never really connecting in any sort of INTIMATE sense.
ive looked through her work and it is beyond INCREDIBLE, almost HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON-esque in capturing that "DECISIVE MOMENT." its just at what price? it all feels like a distraction from some deep UNSPOKEN personal TRAUMA.
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