The idea of repetition is a recurring one (pun intended). Kierkegaard wrote a book titled Repetition and Robbe-Grillet wrote a novel with that title. Peter Handke’s novel Repetition was a catalyst for the trip I took with Zarko Radakovic into the Austrian/Slovenian landscape of Handke’s novel. We called the book containing our two accounts of that trip Repetitions. In our Wild Rides & Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes, Sam Rushforth and I wrote about our repetitive bike rides on the Great Western Trail in Provo Canyon , figuring that slight changes in the route due to weather and seasons and our own aging would develop a plot in a book without a plot.
In his exhibition that opened Friday night at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Paul Crow shows three works under the title “Here.” All three explore the idea of repetition.
Photographs taken from the frozen bed of Fish Lake in central Utah stretch along one long wall of the exhibition space. The line of photos gives an impression of movement along the lake shore. But as you walk from photo to photo, each one a striking juxtaposition of white, empty space and a busy tangle of evergreens and aspens, you realize that the photographer is moving toward the shore, not along it. The changes in perception are subtle. Your gaze moves back and forth between two photos, between three of them. What has changed? The changes you find delight you, slight as they are. You look more closely than you normally do. You focus again and again. You SEE. You are HERE.
My focus is usually fleeting. The first taste of a meal is noteworthy. The first sip of wine is exploratory. The first exposure to a sunset or to a starry sky or to a shift in the weather makes an impression. But the second taste? The fourth sip? The sky after a few minutes under it?
Paul Crow’s focus is repetitive and refreshing. Each new photo refocuses perception. Each re-presentation is a new work. Each click of the camera is intense. And I, seeing with Crow, through Crow’s lens, am renewed.