Thursday, June 18, 2009

Welcome to the blog of Michelle Colling Photography

My good friend and Website Ace, Dave Wild, of Wild New Media, has put together a portfolio of my work on a website called Please take a look.

My intention with this space is to create a dialog about the process and thinking behind my photographic work. You will also find references to other sites, people and writings that I find inspiring.

These first few entries will make more sense after you have visited my website, read the artist statement and looked at the portfolios.

The first post is from the Gorilla series, which was first shown at Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts in Burlington Vermont last year. When the photography program director, Mary Johnson, offered me exhibition space I knew that it was time to put this work together and give it a public life.


The announcement came over the radio: Gorillas had escaped for the zoo and all neighborhoods in the vicinity should be on the lookout.

After I had gone to bed that night I heard unfamiliar noises coming from somewhere in the house. My only thoughts were that the gorillas had broken in and I had to find a safe place to hide. The safest place I knew was in the livingroom behind the couch. Carefully, silently, fearfully I snuck down the stairs into the livingroom and squeezed behind the couch. The house was unsettling in its darkness. I could hear but not see and what I heard was moving closer. The sound was odorously alive and breathing heavily. I tucked head into stomach and put hands over head and wedged further down between the wall and the back of the couch. Please, please don’t find me. Then I heard - nothing. Timidly I tilted my head up. Through the darkness two menacing arms covered with black fur reached for me.

I had the gorilla nightmare so often as a child that I came to believe it really happened. Gorillas really did escape from the zoo, came to my house and stole me away. This first group of photographs are scenes from that nightmare.

While I was working on this series I thought about the role of photographs in our lives. Most of us have albums or boxes full of snapshots of birthday parties, vacations, holidays of people past and present. These pictures become stand-ins for the events in our lives. Photographs become the proof that supports our memories and family folklore. They tell us that something did factually happen, that it wasn’t a dream. And, since photographs document our lives, we consider them to be the truth.

With these photographs I have solidified the existence of an event that has, over time, become more like a memory of something real than a childhood nightmare.

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