Sunday, June 24, 2007
Keith Dannemiller's 'LuzTranslation'
"Christian punk rocker with this dog," 2006, Keith Dannemiller, All rights reserved
Keith Dannemiller is an American photographer who lives in Mexico. In addition to journalistic & corporate work, mostly for American clients, he has been making street-level, color portraits of Mexicans for three years. The project is called LuzTranslation (translated light) & Dannemiller is up front about the difficulties. The pictures, he explains, are a translation "...from a multi-dimensional world of temporal elements to the Cartesian plane of the photograph," but, even trickier, from one culture to another.
"Young woman training to be a boxer," 2006, Keith Dannemiller, All rights reserved
Of the creative leap across cultures Dannemiller writes: "This too then surely is a translation. The photographer/interpreter of people selects the way to present character details that will resonate with others while retaining the person's essential, descriptive oneness. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, I can only hope for an exact translation. Some facets of the experience here will always be off my radar screen. My best is an approximation of Mexican reality."
This needs to be said. But it could as easily be said of the life's work of August Sander, the great German portrait photographer these pictures made me think of. And Sander, don't forget, was attempting to "represent" his own culture. In fact, such a modest, even tentative, approach ought to be taken toward the making or the viewing of any photograph, I think. This in no way diminishes the magic of the medium -- or of Dannemiller's powerful portraits.