Unreal Nature

November 18, 2015

A Subject in the Drama Rather Than a Witness

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… my distance slips, the arrogance and illusion of immunity falters.

This is from Larry Sultan: Here and Home organized by Rebecca Morse (2015). All of the following are quotes from Sultan, and all of the photographs shown are from his Pictures From Home:

… If I know too much, if the narrative is too well-formed, I’m making pictures that are illustrative and as a maker, that’s not interesting. As a viewer, that’s not interesting.

Mom in Curtain, 1991

… I want to investigate the stereotype … and complicate that stereotype, make it a richer field, something that isn’t filled with the assumption of generic lives.


… The house is quiet. They have gone to bed, leaving me alone … Years ago I would have gone through my mother’s purse for one of her cigarettes and smoked in the dark. It was a magical time that the house was mine.

Tonight, however, I am restless. I sit at the dining-room table, rummage through the refrigerator. What am I looking for?

All day long I’ve been scavenging, poking around in rooms and closets, peering at their things, studying them. I arrange my rolls of exposed film into long rows and count and recount them as if they were loot. There are twenty-eight.

What drives me to continue this work is difficult to name. It has more to do with love than with sociology, with being a subject in the drama rather than a witness. And in the odd and fumbled process of working, everything shifts; the boundaries blur, my distance slips, the arrogance and illusion of immunity falters. I wake up in the middle of the night, stunned and anguished. These are my parents.

Mom Touching Wallpaper, 1986


… A good artist has a single vision that kind of unravels in a very elegant way throughout time.

… very few people make a living as an artist, why not just do what you want to do? Instead of conforming to the model of what one thinks one should do, why not just do it? Just get all of those demons out of one’s system and all of the pleasures and all of the fantasies and just run with them; and that has been terrible for my career but wonderful for my soul.

Mom Peaking Out of Curtain, 1989




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