Another year gone by. 2009 was overwhelming, gratifying, and extremely up-and-down. Now I feel like a certain calm has set in over the last two weeks, a contentment and presence and sense of purpose. For so long I've thought about simplifying and was unwilling or unable to take any steps to get there. I know for some it might be difficult to understand the significance for me of stepping away from Facebook; at its core it really was about what I always seem to circle back to: being present. Social media sucked me away into a land of unreality, where my ego felt primary, and stifling. (I'd like to thank everyone who wrote in with their comments and emails of encouragement--you are the ones who do understand the significance, and for that I'm very grateful.)

On a similar note, in two 2008 wrap-up posts (Threshold and The day after) from last year I waxed extremely (perhaps annoyingly) nostalgic. I was stuck on symbolism: maybe if I wrote what I wanted to let go of on scraps of paper and burned them, or did a sage smudge around my entire house I could eradicate my compulsions, my fears, my anger over the uncontrollable. Slowly, over 365 days, a feeling of acceptance I was only playacting at at first has set in. I feel like loving what is is my only desire for 2010. I want, and can, see myself, James and the girls only for who we are, just as we are. I finally feel able to make the choice to be present in this beautiful, joyful imperfection.

I'll close not with one of my own images, but with a video James made a few weeks ago. It feels to me like just what I've been talking about above: the ordinary seen fully. It seems to be having an impact on others as well--it's been featured on Cool Hunting and went up on the front page of Gizmodo today; you can also watch it on YouTube, or via Vimeo below.

Have a very happy New Year.


Goodbye Facebook

I'm not sure why writing this post has my heart racing, but so be it...

I've been aware of my compulsion to check Facebook and its statuses, notes, mobile uploads, etc., etc., practically since I first signed up. In the beginning it seemed harmless enough: it was good for a laugh; I liked being in touch with people I hadn't seen in years; and becoming part of the photographic social media community was enjoyable. Then I started realizing that when something of note happened away from the computer I almost immediately would translate the experience into "Elizabeth Fleming [insert comedic moment/event/annoyance here]" format. It was also a time-sucker, and even though it felt like a ridiculous thing to be fixated on, I didn't seem able to cut down my time on it. I spend my workdays in front of the computer, and as much as I tried to do the work first and the Facebook trolling second, inevitably the trolling took precedence. Every time I pulled myself away there was that sense of: what could I have been doing with that hour? Or should I say, those hours?

And so for weeks now I've been asking myself: is it worth it? If every time lately when I think about deleting my account I feel a sense of euphoria, isn't that a sign? It's been easy to talk myself out of it, based on my art, based on having a Fan Page, based on using it as a networking tool. But there are plenty of photographers out there who aren't on Facebook and are doing just fine, and if my creativity is being sapped through a medium that I've come to use as a way to zone out, all the networking in the world doesn't matter. Plus, I'm tired of thinking about myself in the third person.

2010 is coming and it's the time of the year when we make resolutions. Usually I'd be adding something to the effect of "strike a balance with social media" to my list. But I know myself: I'm not in general a black-and-white, all-or-nothing person--in this case however it's like I can't help but eat the entire box of donuts, and then some, so it's time to let it go.

Farewell Facebook friends, I really will miss you. You can always find me here on the blog, or communicate via email (I'm not becoming a hermit), or who knows--I may even see you on the street. I hope you'll send me show invites and information on what you're up to at elizabeth @ elizabethfleming.com. Once I'm done alerting all of you via Facebook (ah, the irony!) I'm going to hold a private virtual funeral and bury the beast, 24 hours from now.

Oh, and goodbye to you too, Twitter. I never really did love you.


VERSUS @ Hous Projects in SoHo

© Eric Ogden

Exciting news: I'm part of a group exhibition in New York City that will be showing at Hous Projects in SoHo in January, one of my first legit Manhattan shows. Many thanks to Ruben Natal-San Miguel for asking me to participate. You can see the details about the show in this post on his blog here; I'd write more but the girls just walked in the door and I must switch out the creative hat for the mom one.


Out of the loop

I feel very out of the loop lately--in my mind it's still September. I've been going nuts trying to get all of my work framed and shipped off to the various shows that will be opening in the coming weeks, along with answering calls for interviews and keeping up with my submissions. As a result I've become more separated from actual real-time events: lectures, shows, and the like. I'm not quite rooted in the art scene currently. This isn't necessarily unusual--because of the kids there's much I don't/can't/choose not to attend. But I'd been getting into a bit of a swing with the social scene, and now I'm wanting to be more of a hermit. The holidays are partly responsible--there are more activities to help out with at school, decorating for the holidays to be completed, and buying of gifts to be done, etc. etc. What I can barely keep up with normally has been multiplied. I swear the laundry had kittens.

One thing I missed which I do wish I hadn't was an open discussion about the future of photo books put together by livebooks and Flak photo. I'd told Andy I'd chime in, but there just wasn't enough time to form my ideas. I didn't even turn on my computer yesterday. And what I realize is it's OK right now--if I miss a deadline, even if I take a month off from promoting my work or even thinking about art, maybe that's what I need.

I was talking to a friend today about Myers-Briggs personality typing. I used to be an INTJ but over time have moved into the INFJ realm. The reason I bring this up is because what they say is that as you get older you stop using the easier, "familiar" tools and become more interested in the unexplored parts of your personality. I find myself suddenly wanting to learn how to cook well, along with the (unusual for me) desire to train for a triathlon, among other things. The sensory, immediate pleasures are coming to the fore. This is all new--and something I think I need to go with for now. I still love photography as much as ever, but I want to round out my focus. This may be the season for channeling my drives elsewhere so I can come back to my art reenergized.

At least this is how I feel today--we'll see if the desire sticks.


Daylight Magazine / Keliy Anderson-Staley

© Keliy Anderson-Staley

Daylight Magazine is a wonderful publication with many great things going on; I enjoy the online format of their website as there's plenty to click through, from multimedia projects which feature monthly video podcasts and narration, to their daily blog which is an excellent resource for calls for entry and shows to see, along with their actual print magazine (get a subscription here).

One podcast that I particularly enjoyed was from Keliy Anderson-Staley whose series "Off the Grid" is about people in rural Maine who have constructed their own homes and either live without power, running water, etc. or who take advantage of solar technologies and the like for minimum environmental impact.

Anderson-Staley herself grew up in the community and says feels like both an insider and an outsider. I've always wondered if I would find a certain peace away from technology, at "one" with the land, or if being cut off from the technological necessities of my photographic process would make contentment impossible. I do think many of us in this day and age of constant news and the barrage of media sometimes fantasize about a more uncluttered life but, as the photographs show, the quote "simple life" can often be a challenge in itself. To see all of this documented is fascinating, and if anything I wish the Daylight podcast were longer, though you can find more information elsewhere, such as in her Nymphoto interview and her extremely well-written statement.

I think the social relevance of her work will make her one to watch in the months to come--and having just been awarded one of five honorable mentions in the 2009 Aperture Portfolio Prize she's well on her way .



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