INTERVIEW

Lingering in Space With Raymond Meeks

The acclaimed photographer holds forth on the “call and response” of image making, the picture that’s perpetually out of reach, and the allure of working in “smaller orbits”

In your workshop description for “Temps Mort,” you speak of “a sense of inex- haustible wonder.” How has your own sense of wonder evolved over time? What unexpected fascinations call to you?

For me, wonder has recursive qualities that cycle back and generate more (as the term inexhaustible, in some way, implies). This still requires that we give our attention, howev- er, and I find, over time, so much vying for my attention by way of phones and social media, the demands of producing content, the perceived need to remain relevant. What has been surprising to me, by way of wonder and fascination, is how after making books and pictures for over 30 years, I find the creative process has begun providing a sense of my own form. The call-and-response activity I engage in when working with a camera, discovering forms in my world that align with what’s happening on the interior, then expanding this to shape a book or exhibition. This, too, has provided a sense of who I am, my interests and curiosities.

What perspective would you offer an artist who is struggling to edit their photo- graphs or shape a narrative?

Editing and sequencing are the most puzzling parts of the process, requiring tenacity and patience. The clues for a sequence are buried in the work and, for me, resolutions more often arrive seemingly by accident. I also think most photographers tend to be not the greatest editors of their own work because they’re too close and can’t help but bring subjective experiences of making the images to the editing/sequencing process. So, to have one to three critics you can trust is essential. But definitely try to limit this number, or else the work becomes focus grouped.

What’s an example of an exercise or experiment that you will take participants through in your workshop?

I’ve asked participants to bring an expanded archive to allow for the exercise of slowing the pace of delivery and the viewing experience, where one might feel a suspension of time and a lingering in space as a way of emphasizing seeing in a more dynamic way.

Is there a book in your collection—a book by anoth- er artist—that you return to again and again?

Berlin in the Time of the Wall by John Gossage.

 

How does living in the Hudson Valley inform your practice? And how does leaving it influence it?

The Hudson Valley happens to be the place where I’ve set down for a period (10 years now) and thus, is the place I’m
drawn to photograph. I suppose there are elements of this valley that recall Ohio, the formative place of my upbringing. I don’t leave it often to photograph, but lately, when I do, I more often try to identify a single place in a broader region where I can commit to photographing consistently for the entire period I plan to be visiting. I’m much more interested in working along a vertical axis, in mak- ing smaller orbits that allow me to explore a place more intimately, which also coincides with an interior projection that comes into play with how I’m photographing.

If you could choose just one of your books to speak for you as an artist, which would it be, and why?

Not to be coy, but it would probably be the next book I’m about to make. Even after 30 years of making pictures, I find the evolution of how I wish to fill the frame is steadily progress- ing. The picture I wish to make is perpetually just out of reach. And as a photographer whose primary vessel of expression is the book, I’m consistently trying to identify a new construct or form to house and deliver images in a way that’s accessible and also invites the viewer to have an active role of participation. The Inhabitants, the latest book I made alongside writer George Weld, comes closest to achieving this.

Raymond Meeks x Palm Tree Workshops: “Temps Mort,” 16–20 September, 2024.