the served: Artist’s Statement
Photography in the international context is frequently employed as a medium to illuminate the dire needs of the world’s hungry, sick, poor, and oppressed. Contemporary media is saturated with images of dying children, mourning families, and divided communities. Photographers and photojournalists who work abroad resolutely defend their photographs often on the basis that suffering, in its many shapes and forms, necessities exposure in order to spur individuals to advocate for remedies and aid.
Ironically, however, those who are commonly ignored and forgotten in this process are the very individuals who were once photographed—whose lives have now been inescapably encapsulated, defined, and frozen from a solitary moment in time. These people are reckoned as subjects, not merely in relation to the photographic use of the term, but with respect to the power that has and will presently continue to be exerted over their lives. Photography, then, is utilized—irrespective of the photographer’s actual intention—to create and maintain a structural subordination rooted within the server-served dichotomy.
My work, therefore, strives to unpack and deconstruct this power dynamic by featuring photographs that I have taken in Venezuela, Kenya, and Cambodia. Each of the three walls exhibited is not only distinct with regard to the specific country being depicted, but each additionally embraces a theme focused on my previously held notions of service. Although each set of photographs was taken a mere six months apart from one another, I anticipate still that viewers will recognize the apparent evolution of my work as the photographs convey a progressive sense of authenticity, vulnerability, and truth.
Amidst the often raucous hullabaloo surrounding international service and engagement in the United States today, I have slowly come to learn of a quiet yet poignant reality—that in which I am no longer the server, but the one who is served.