Keith Dannemiller: Callegrafía
A good street photograph is a bit like opening a book and reading a page out of context. It’s descriptive and intriguing; you don’t know what has come before or what will happen next. Keith Dannemiller takes those kinds of photographs, capturing split second tableaux of visual confusion frozen into complex film stills in the movie of life. Each are painted with totems of our time: graffitti, posters, advertising, street signs and hold emotions that connect us to the human experience. His project, Callegrafía, will be featured at Fotoseptiembre USA, a International Photography Festival in San Antonio, Texas and he also has a one-person show, Luz Translation, that will open on February 17, 2017 at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, ‘El Nigromante’, in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.
Keith Dannemiller graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from Vanderbilt University, and worked for three years at UC San Francisco investigating the use of radioactive isotopes in inflammation studies. Nevertheless, he soon realized the scientific life of the laboratory was not for him. Since leaving the rigorous milieu of research and becoming a denizen of more serendipitous settings, he has been a freelance editorial photographer for publications such as Time, Newsweek, Business Week, New York Times, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Al Jazeera and numerous other international media. He currently spends his time photographing personal projects of social importance in Mexico City such as the cult to Saint Jude Thaddeus, editorial projects in the contentious southern state of Guerrero and traditional religious festivals throughout the country. He continuously exhibits his work throughout Mexico and recently published Callegrafía a book of documentary images from the streets of Mexico City, his home for the last 30 years. His work is included in the prestigious Wittliff Southwestern and Mexican Photography Collection in San Marcos, Texas.
Callegrafía is the semiotic code of the streets made image. Private moments in the most public of places, interpreted, joined into a visual whole with other seemingly diverse, found segments and given cohesion, harmony and meaning with light and film. The project is simply a serendipitous confluence of disparate elements from the heart of Mexico City.
I cut for sign in an urban environment — searching for gestures, looks, actions, motions and emotions in anticipation of that irresistible, unique moment when the potential energy of the street releases and you have no choice but to seize and transform it. When the immersion in life’s arresting everydayness is complete.
In that quixotic pursuit I have found that the normal distance between public and private space that exists in many urban neighborhoods surprisingly disintegrates in the Historic Center of Mexico City. Sometimes, so much so, as to be completely erased. In a sense, in front of my camera, public and private deconstruct instantly into human.
The reason that I make photographs as I do, is a visual fascination with the interpersonal dialectic and ensuing synthesis (perceived as uninterrupted) between the social (collective) and the psychological (individual): the spatial and emotional relationship that results in a photograph when the individual is portrayed as being a part of his environment (interconnected), or that when he or she is revealed to be apart from their surroundings (alienated).
Callegrafía attempts to recognize those indeterminate moments and spaces that generate images which are difficult to position on a continuum that resembles a Mobius strip.
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