Fine Art Photography Daily

Photolucida: Adrain Chesser: orange blossoms, fire ants and the tyranny of memory

Today’s post is part of several weeks dedicated to work seen at Photolucida
I was born on May 19, 1965 in Okeechobee, Florida.  I was groomed to be a Pentecostal preacher, studying the bible and taking piano and organ lessons.  I spoke in tongues.  I learned to cast out demons.  I was gay.  I left home at the first opportunity….Arian Chesser

I cried the first time I saw Adrain Chesser‘s work.  His powerful series, I Have Something To Tell You, is one that I have shown in my classes for a number of years and it never fails to move me profoundly.  I have admired Adrain’s work from afar, so when he sat down at my reviewing table, I was simply, thrilled.  Once again, Adrain presented me with work so personal and powerful that it was hard to hold back tears. His ten year visual journey of self exploration, orange blossoms, fire ants and the tyranny of memory, has been a personal therapy, a working through events and demons that shaped his life, but through photography, he has been able to release their power and move forward.  I am truly honored to share select images from this body of work.

In Adrain’s words:
Photography has been my highest spiritual practice.
It is no coincidence that at a time when I was abandoning the god and the religious dogma I was raised with, I should discover photography as a means to interpret my life. During my thirties it quite literally saved my life.

Thru the ritualistic nature of image making, I healed deep-seated emotional wounds from my childhood that had manifested as physical disease in my body.Now, in my mid forties, free from childhood demons, I find my life to be full of moments of transcendence. States of grace elevated above the mundane, moments of such inexpressible beauty that more often than not I am brought to tears by the heart breaking knowledge that comes from the temporal nature of life. The knowing that life is fragile and fleeting, that one moment is always dying to the next.

I have lied, cheated, and stolen so I could feel the erotic rush of watching an image magically appear on what was a blank piece of paper.  I’m learning to cast “in” demons.  I’ve always felt I would do almost anything to know the power of holding a split second in my hands, and look at it as long and as lovingly as I care to, to capture something as elusive as an emotion, and to feel the power of that emotion possess me each time I look at it. To feel the electric jolt of telling a lie convincingly and above all else, to experience the awe-inspiring, god-like power of creating and witnessing a truth

Little Bruce

orange blossoms, fire ants and the tyranny of memory
In 2000 I decided that I would return to where I grew up, to photographically document what it was like in to live in a small town in South Florida at the turn of the millennium. After shooting for a month, deeply disturbing memories from my childhood began to surface, which triggered a nervous breakdown. When I returned home I went into therapy. It occurred to me that if I could make a photographic representation of these specific events from my childhood, I could own them outside of myself as an object and that these memories would no longer hold a shadowy power over my subconscious.

Self Portrait Crying

From 2001 to 2011 I returned to Florida at least once a year to make images with friends and family.  I would either recreate specific events or I would stay present in my process for images to arise that could hold the emotional weight of memories that remained half shrouded. In the end what I remembered was my resilience and defiance as a child in the face of an overwhelmingly large and seemingly unsafe world. What that came to mean for me as an adult, was the realization that the spectres of my past had no real substance, as if they were only made up of vapor and light.

Dying Orange Grove


Mercury Vapor

Pippin’ Hot

Pool at Midnight

At Sunset





What Remains

Easter Sunday




On the Day I was Raped


The Deluge, No.13


His Hand Fell in Shadow

Burning Orange Grove


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