I came across Jordan Gale‘s project It is what it is @ Lenscratch. At first, it was a darkness that grabbed my attention, but then something else triggered a different engagement with his work. In what seems like a statement about It is was it is, Gale mentions that the project “acts as a form of therapy” and then that “[he] was lucky”. Because I immediately empathize with this sort of processes, some personal memories came to mind. But, first, let us glimpse at Gale’s project:

© Jordan Gale, ‘Lynne’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Joe’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Chuck’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Tyler’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Anna’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Ben’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.
© Jordan Gale, ‘Homecoming’, from the series ‘It is what it is’.

First and foremost, I think it’s fair to say it’s an unpretentious work: in its effort to become a series (or project) Gale seemed to have resisted the beginners’s temptation to give in to a too linear construction, overly subdued to the narrative premises. On the other hand, some images lack autonomy and dynamics, as if they don’t know where they belong; sometimes because he’s too close to his subject, sometimes because the composition just fails to appear as ‘natural’ (meaning not staged) as it wants to be.

When one mentions the idea of photo-therapy, it’s difficult not to consider sincerity as the higher quality, aesthetic and ethical (if there is even a difference). Because in the aforementioned statement, found @ Lenscratch, Gale addresses the issues that drove him to do this series, I can only assume that maybe it’s the honesty of that drive that translates into the true darkness that I recognize in some photographs. Having said that, the series seems incomplete, as if the healing is yet to occur. 

When Gale mentions that [he] was lucky, I’m reminded of my own circumstances, although mine are fundamentally different from his. Last week, while visiting my mother, she ventured into memory lane and said something like “I always knew you’d be OK; the moral principles were all there”, to which I answered: “I was lucky”. What I meant was that I was lucky to have survived, which is precisely the same Gale implied with the same expression. Apparently, we both recognize chance played a major part in the path we took, at a given moment.

‘The dark hole’ was a recurrent ‘theme’ during my therapy sessions. I’m sure although it has a particular meaning, it’s also universally understood, so no need for further explanations. Anyway, what I want to emphasize here is that when in ‘a dark hole’, one looses sight and that void poses a very surreal set of challenges that go beyond moral values or principles (or whatever you want to call them). In my opinion, how one crawls out of ‘a dark hole’ is highly dependent on chance and sometimes a constellation of random events

But what part does photography in this plot?

Does anyone still doubt photography can be a potentially liberating therapeutic tool?  

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