I was a Dog (exhibit)

A quickie. I was recently asked to join a collective exhibit of former students at the photography academy of my home town. I was honored of course, but as I couldn't show work from the Yakuza project (someone else has got dibs on that biggie - I'll reveal very very soon :) I opted for an edit of images from my Mexico work in 2008.

Six images from a chapter titled "I was a Dog", part of Dislocate, the broader story in which I try to come to terms with my feelings of being uprooted.

The hardest part for me is always how to visualize the reality of the printed image in a given exhibit space, and depending on that, to try and make the best possible choices: which image edit, which size, to make an accompanying edition or not, and how to present the images. A good way for me to help visualize is that I not only make a simple sketch of the space and add the work into it, but that I also add silhouettes of people at the correct relative sizes. This never fails to amaze me, and always proves to be very helpful. Bigger is most definitely not always better.

For this exhibit, I had available 3 large panels of 2,5x3m (8x10ft) each, white, both sides usable.

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02
Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02

As you can see by the relative size to the silhouettes and the panels, in this case, the prints should be quite large, 44" high by almost 70" wide.

If I would've printed a test image at this size without having made the sketch first, I would've most certainly opted for much smaller prints, because, right now, drying on my table at home, they seem way too large:

I was a Dog - image of print
I was a Dog - image of print

Presentation-wise, I'm going for a "bare bones" approach, hanging the prints with two steel clamps directly on the paper, without any framing or glass or filter at all. Light prints, heavy content. I hope it'll work out.

How on earth I'm going to transport these beasts to the venue next week is a mystery to me.

And I've beent told that any exhibit is prone to last minute changes because of many unforeseen/practical circumstances... e.g. what if there are only two panels available instead of three, or they cannot be setup side by side...

So I might have to adapt on the spot.

Makes it all the more exciting me says. Fingers crossed.

Cheers,

anton

More exhibit info on the website of the Academy of Fine Arts of Hasselt (in Dutch).

Dislocate...

When i was in Mexico in the fall of 2008, during the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, i made the first image of was to become a life long project. I knew when i had made the image, that something had happened.

But i needed long talks with family and friends to be able to put my finger on what it meant exactly... David, being in Mexico as well, was the first i could talk to. At the time i had no clue how my developing visual language was tied into my own psyche, my own history and personality, and i really needed help contextualizing what i had just created and what it meant to me.

dislocate_ANT6334

It was a hard time for me right after that image.

It felt like I had touched something very personal, and to be honest i never expected this to happen. I mean, while taking pictures? It got so bad, I'd find myself traveling, wandering the streets all over the world desperately trying to find myself, pointing my camera inwards along the way.

Only very slowly i learned to use this feeling as a positive rather than a constrictive force. But it was hard - and sometimes, when i get into that mood, it still is - to make that switch.

Yes, i'm a gemini :-/

dislocate_ANT9957

I honestly never thought i would ever even have something resembling anything close to a life long project. It sounds so daunting. It's sounds so... pompous. So... something that fake artists declare, so... something so not like me, and certainly not something to tell anyone about.

But for some reason, it gives me a tremendous peace of mind and a kind of tranquility that i never expected.

I know i might never complete it, let alone publish it. Come to think of it, completion is not even relevant. But publication is, i guess... And i have a gut feeling that the chance of publishing this project will be directly related to how successful in general i will be as a photographer, because i'm sure i'll have to use up all my credit to get this one published.

I am, effectively, building up my entire career, just to have enough credit to make this happen.

No joke. That's how it feels. Sounds weird doesn't it.

---

The project "dislocate" not only photography: it spills over to the rest of my life. My relationship with my family has always been exceptional, and now it is even better; I'm much more at ease in any friend or love relationship; when I'm working, I now work harder and more efficiently; and I love what I do more than before.

On the other hand, I'm also much more intolerant and nervous, and get angry more often, when confronted with things that waste time or energy... I'm much more focused, and realize more than before that we are all given only one time here on this world. And I feel I have to make it count.

---

"dislocate" is not a singular project anymore. It's an assignment, it's commercial, it's art, it's my life, all at the same time. It does not distract me from any other work i do. It is just, simply, there.  I could best describe it as an energy, a mood that runs through me, all the time. It isn't even fixed to photography... Photography just happens to be the vehicle to express at this point in time.

"dislocate" forces me to open my mind as wide as i can. It makes me not judge others and listen instead, trying to understand. I honestly believe it might even make me a better person.

"dislocate" is my sense of my place in this world. Me feeling uprooted, my incessant looking for where i belong.

Where my land is.

Funny that feeling dislocated, something that used to unsettle me and make me nervous, now actually makes me feel calm instead.

I still get nervous sometimes though... but not too often anymore.

Actually, I think "dislocate" is never meant to be finished. It is just the thing that makes me feel that i am a photographer.

Hmm...

I hope it never goes away.