This text is drawn from his book The Democratic Forest.
Some OCR Glitches may be present.
I was having dinner with some friends, writers from around Oxford, or maybe at the bar of the Holiday Inn, [and] someone said, “What have you been photographing here today, Eggleston?”
“Well, I’ve been photographing democratically,” I replied.
“But what have you been taking pictures off”
“I’ve been outdoors, nowhere, in nothing.”
“What do you mean?”
Well, just woods and dirt, a little asphalt here and there.”
I was treating things democratically, which of course didn’t mean a thing to the people I was talking to. I already had different, massive series. I had been to Berlin and to Pittsburgh and completed huge bodies of work. From that moment everything from the boxes of thousands of prints made cohesive sense for the first time. All the work from this period from 1983 to 1986 was unified by the democracy. Friends would ask what I was doing and I would tell them that I was working on a project with several thousand prints. They would laugh but I would be dead serious. At least I had found a friend in that title, The Democratic Forest, that would look over me. It was not much different from Cartier-Bresson bringing the whole world from America to China to The Decisive Moment.
While I’m not terribly enamored with some of Egelstons individual works I am an admirer of his mode of working – he consciously builds enormous archives of images with which to work in creating his bodies of work, I’m more inclined towards editing down than he is, but I understand his point when he puts hundreds or even thousands of prints together to create a body, and I’m intrigued by how he uses the camera, many of his photographs are almost like a glance at the subject matter rather than a gaze, or even stare like many other photographers who are far more ‘picky with what they select to photograph – Eggelston seems to have sidestepped this element which so many people get unnecessarily caught up in.
Harvey Benge is a photographer from New Zealand, his work is described thus.
These images explore the confining and containing structures of the urban environment. City dwellers the world oar lip their lives within these rigidly delineated territories. Directed by signs, lights, warnings, we conform; perhaps in the wistful belief that there is indeed ‘safely in numbers’. To ignore the city’s laws and limits poses a danger that is every bit as real as the dangers of the unpredictable open spaces of the ‘natural’ world. But there are signs of dissent too. Small anarchies for the observant. Unexpected intrusions by the untamed world into this controlled and controllng environment. In this series Benge sets out to question just what is natural. For many urbanites the natural world exists as an increasingy elusive place. No matter where we are the natural world is always somewhere Ask. It Is packaged and sold to us as place of purity, dangers adventure, mystery, solitude. We dream of escaping It. Yet we fall to see the mystery and intrigue in the everyday urban events that surround us.
I Quite like these for much the same reasons that I like a lot of Egelstons work, they’re grabs that have become a mode of working, and as such they start to build up a flow and a meter of their own as a group, they become a body to mine for meaning, they can be treated as an archive in the archeological sense, which quite appeals to me – Also I’m intrigued by the fact that i took a picture that’s disturbingly like the final (seats) picture a month or two before I saw Benges version, which he’d taken over a decade before – the two pics are very different, but at a funny level they’re almost identical at the same time.
Mine is here; http://secretive-squirrel.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-fujiroids.html