– by Christine Redmond
Photog: An Imaginary Look at the Uncompromising Life of Thomas Smith is an unusual mix of fact and fiction.
A multidisciplinary, one-man performance piece from Boca del Lupo, the PuSh Festival selection draws from the real life experiences of four conflict photographers to tell the story of the fictional title character. Set in the Smith’s New York apartment, the story begins with the photographer, played by Jay Dodge facing an eviction notice after returning from an assignment. As he packs up his belongings he reflects on all that he has witnessed in Iraq, Haiti, The Ivory Coast, Monrovia, Liberia, and Afghanistan.
Picking up his fragmented archive, he struggles to address the significance of his work and the seemingly insignificant effect images of war have on the masses. He expresses his passion for photography to aid the viewer in working against manufactured emotion, to feel something raw and real. But as he realizes the perverse passivity of the public to the wars abroad he is left feeling frustrated and disillusioned. “What’s it all for?” he asks. “A picture?”
It’s not often that we hear the story of a photographer’s war experiences. These range from simple physical survival, like staying vigilant while taking cover-worthy shots, to the psychological conflicts. Do you photograph a man dying in the hopes of sharing his struggle with the world or do you let him draw his last breath in solitude?
Photog is dedicated to photographer Tim Hetherington, an important contributor to the performance who was tragically killed in April of 2011 while covering the conflict in Libya. The show runs from now until Jan 26 at Studio T, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street. For more info click here.