June 16, 2016 @ 21:03 EST

Dear Anton,

The inclination of your figure’s pensive, shadowed head. It may be human or stone; it’s impossible to know. Though it is rare for public statuary to assume an introspective pose. We prefer those we put on pedestals to gaze at the horizon.

The public figure on a plinth leads me to think of its counterpoint; specifically the efforts of those who elevated him. Or should I say, upon whose backs he was lifted. Though it is easy to traffic in generalities. We well know the cycles of celebration and desecration of past heroes as their ideas come in and out of fashion, often with accompanying public contention and violence.

In any case, your bowed head suggests reflection, which in turn suggests a response, a fragment of narrative. In choosing images for you, I‘ve been pulled between those that imply a story and those that imply a concept. And when I choose I step away from reason and instead allow an image to arise in my mind. Once it has secured a place it begins to accumulate a weight that is difficult to resist.

All this talk of groups and conformity, of statues and gazes, of empire and eternity. And you in Rome. It’s leading me to Tiberius, inclined to introspection, the “gloomiest of men” according to Pliny the Elder, but also conqueror of the Roman north, of the Germanic tribes. And the image that’s arisen in response, perhaps inescapably, is of the slaughterhouse.

#image_by_image is an ongoing conversation between photographers Ivan Sigal and Anton Kusters.
@ivansigal @antonkusters on Instagram