Review by Gerhard Clausing •
Getting over a relationship that didn’t work out is never easy, especially if all your hopes and dreams were invested in it. You had your emotions tied up in another person with the hope of a long-term bond, with love the strong glue that was to hold it together. Depicting such a lost relationship in a sustained and transferable narrative seems even harder; more often we tend to see single images that show such a loss, but seldom a connected vision. This is where Cody Bratt excels.
He states, “In making these photographs and the monograph, I wanted to create an ‘emotional documentary’ which depicts the journey one might take in trying to find the strength to break away from such a sickly love. Each photograph doesn’t mark a literal or specific memory. I mean the photographs to be read as an ambiguous state of mind, as memories and dreams simultaneously half invented and half lived. Indeed, many of these moments are drawn from recurring images I only vaguely remember now.
“My goal was to create a series of photographs which felt specific enough to be familiar, yet open enough for the viewer to inhabit and fill in with their own story. I borrowed recognizable visual tableaus from the American road trip and mixed them with intimate portraits in temporary spaces meant to depict the interior moments of the journey. Combined, I hope they render the lyrical, although never reliably factual, sense of searching, discovery and loss inherent in letting go.”
This is a well-printed large book with 56 images that visualize the feelings around such a loss, a sequence that may well serve as a metaphor for other kinds of losses. As a male photographer, the author transfers his feelings into images that represent the male’s view, showing the restlessness, aimlessness, and lonely moments that characterize the predicament, along with visions of potential alternatives in the world out there as it presents itself. We see images of lone individuals, mostly female, but also male; the projected portraits allow us to project ourselves into the narrative as well. We see people alone with their body that are longing for another physical and emotional being. We note a lot of pictures that show travel along the highways of life that may lead to some new meaningful relationship, with love as part of it.
The sequence of images plays with closeness versus distance, intimate portraits versus vast landscapes and generic motels. Damaged plants and abandoned buildings reinforce an atmosphere of loneliness and uncertainty. The vastness of the wide-open spaces might indicate a glimmer of hope, a bit of a rainbow, against the gloom of loss that has provided sorrow and stirs up reminiscences. The generously large pages are impressive in supporting the purpose of making us feel the predicament even more, since there is a greater illusion of immediacy and a greater sense of viewer participation.
This excellent project was awarded an Honorable Mention at the first annual Photo Book Exhibition of the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) this fall.
Photographer: Cody Bratt (born and resides in San Francisco, California, USA)
Fraction Editions, New Mexico; © 2018
Hardback with sewn binding; 96 pages, unpaginated, with 56 color plates; 10.25 x 13.25 inches (26 x 34 cm); printed in Turkey by Ofset Yapımevi
Photobook Designer: Shawn Bush