#83: The simple reminder of my Lundeen let down, ft. photos from therapy and a viral obituary
I recently began a project photographing cemeteries on expired film. Consider it a study of expiration dates and death and the perceived utility of all things. I posed to my followers: send me a roll of expired film, and I’ll send you a print from said roll in return. That proposition stands here as well, of course. Here’s a video of me receiving a couple rolls from friends, with the extra treat of unwrapping some handmade art. Just reply to this email if you need my address!
I’ve long had an idea for an issue that profiles the late Nick DeWolf – a favorite and obscure photographer – and features an interview with his son-in-law and archivist, Steve Lundeen. It relied heavily on Steve…far too heavily on Steve.
I first stumbled upon Nick’s work while browsing Flickr for old photos of New Orleans. Nick was a career engineer from Boston, but seemingly always had a camera on him and was committed to documenting his life – which to me, years and miles and the grave removed, seemed warm and inviting in its own right. I was drawn in; I’ve looked through thousands of his photos. The archive is still being scanned and uploaded, but already holds over 120,000 negatives. Prolific for a hobbyist.
After finally reaching Steve after a third cold email, I finally got a response. He consulted the family and granted me an interview. This was going to be an exciting issue of Miscellanea, no doubt! I was curious to learn about Steve’s thoughts about the archive, Nick’s work and life and general disposition towards photography. I was also curious about Steve, and what drew him to dedicating to such an ambitious project. There was profundity to excavate! I was excited.
For literal months, I ruminated on the perfect framing for this piece. I considered what would be appropriate and interesting to ask. What might peak a reader’s curiosity as much as mine. In reality, I procrastinated sending this interview to Steve for no particular reason at all. But last week I gathered my curiosities and posed to Steve eight fine questions. Steve responded:
After reading through your questions, I am afraid I misunderstood the nature of your request.
Very sorry, but I am unable to be the subject of your interview.
I suppose I could dive headfirst into Nick’s work alone, but that was never the point of this. Damnit, Steve. I relied far too heavily on you!
Moving on. If we can glean anything from this, it’s that when we set out to do something, we should just get to it. When we procrastinate, sometimes we’re procrastinating failure. And for me, this project seemed a failure. But I could have failed much faster, and earlier! In the weeks I’ve skipped an issue, this could have been the one to go out. I could have stuck to my schedule, had I only sent Mr. Steve Lundeen the questions quicker upon our initial correspondence.
But even more important: faster to fail = faster to succeed. Perhaps framing this in terms of speed and failure and success is wrong. I’m certainly no proponent of rushing anything, and winning is hardly the point.
The simple truth here is that avoidance is bad and confrontation is good.
Which brings me back to Nick DeWolf. Look at him. Look at his work. Nick didn’t avoid a damn thing! I think what I’ve admired about Nick all along is his presence to every moment. As I scrummage his archives (thanks Steve), I see a person fully involved in his own living. Smiling, dancing, kissing and perfectly willing to hand off his camera to whomever may capture the life at hand. Free and present. That’s the perfect gift.
All of us are putting things off, right now, that if simply confronted would relieve real tension in our bodies and shed some weight from our holiday-heavy minds. Our brains are jammed with would-be’s and another-time’s. It is completely human to overpack. But maybe today, we find just one thing we don’t need to bring with us. The lighter we pack, the more present we can be.
Walk and talk 📷
I’ve been seeing a new therapist. We do walk and talk therapy, which is great for my mind. I take photos while we walk and they feel simple and soft.
✏️ bell hooks on the power of design
”For me it has always been a call to search for the beauty that is beyond that which can be made most easily apparent, to find beauty in the everyday.”
⚰️ The viral obituary everyone is talking about
”There will be a very disrespectful and totally non-denominational memorial on May 10, 2022, most likely at a bowling alley in Fayetteville, NC. The family requests absolutely zero privacy or propriety, none what so ever, and in fact encourages you to spend some government money today on a 1-armed bandit, at the blackjack table or on a cheap cruise to find our inheritance.” Must-read!
🌐 The Web3 Renaissance: A Golden Age for Content + NFTs Are Critical for the Future of Art
Roll your eyes all you want. I would have done the same a few months ago.
🎄 Five Christmas Tree Sellers Rate the Metaverse
It’s only the 9th issue of Anne Kadet’s newsletter, but yes you should subscribe. It’s great.
“To be an artist involves some suffering. That’s why artists repeat themselves—because they have no access to a cure.”
This was not a failure. You completed your task… now I am curious to see the questions.