Artist Statement Project1
Benjamin (Ghost) Hoffman
Substratum: Putting the pieces together thick and fast, sentience born of echoing necrosis, virgin solace within a supplicated grindstone, this is Project1.
Working as a professional photographer for over fifteen years, image creation for the sake of creating something has moved in and out of my life, but has not been equable as it might have. Like many artists turned pro, my early years focused on experimentation, and shooting for simple unclouded mirth. Then, without realizing it, caught in a roiling river, I was swept away with life. An overwhelming level of work and responsibility became the norm, and that beautiful shot I said I’d go back for was forgotten.
In December of 2010 my life was in ruins. Faced with turning all attention on myself, I decided to embark on a journey. One that would hopefully mark a lasting return to creating photographs without rules, save two, or restrictions.
Rule No. 1
Each day of 2010, I will take the time to create at least one finished art photograph. Perfection, a fool’s errand at best, is not the goal. Only that I present, on my site, Project1, at least one final image that accomplishes one or more of the following:
- Creates an image suitable for gallery exhibition
- Expands and refines my craft
- Stimulates personal growth
- Helps to heal my heart
Rule No. 2
I will not create an image for Project1, which is too easy. An undeniable shot that comes quickly is more than fine. Capturing something without depth, and devoid of progress is not.
There is no road map to pure art. Years ago, while working with landscape photography, my best images seemed to have been created by another hand. It was difficult to reconcile the prints coming up in the developing tray, and myself as the shooter. Today I know that these images came without the brutal intent found in work for hire. Those landscapes were stable unto themselves, and born from letting myself go. Young, and without the luxury of time, I could not, until years later, understand that I was creating from within my perfect self.
Project1 is a monolithic step in my evolution. I am older, and recognize that, in allowing myself to repeatedly die, I am able to generate photographs, which exhibit maturity not present in my previous works. In this environment, I am free to construct while letting go. I can see past stone and mortar to the hands, and my hands, which have sowed and sewn that which is all around me. Capture not the brush, but the strokes themselves, and the shine of color as it reflects us. There is exposure everywhere. It is facile and onerous, substantial and ephemeral.
Producing imagery for Project1 is to, without asseveration, work within the safest place possible. Let the day be a battle of black and white, the contrast of a savage life, and the struggle for compassion within suffering. Intramural and critically alien, I work soft as a whisper, and the obvious, the easy, let sacrifice to my other self.
More rubric than alias, I didn’t so much decide to call myself Ghost, rather, the actuality assumed me. Unbound by myself, I am finally walking upright. Mostly un-afraid, the requisite artist as martyr turned vaporous, yet tangible. A catharsis, this passage into higher art, one of grays and heather, is a haunted house, shown handsome in daylight. A return to the plucky child previously lost in the hourglass. An awakening, Project1 is flowering by unmitigated disintegration. Within this space I am solitary, and almost comfortable.
A note about the additional contents of Project1.
Initially, I didn’t exactly know what Project1 was, or would become. Over time it has come to include poetry, and as of late, stories. Because I’ve always believed that, without so much as a title to nurse it, a photograph must be able to stand on its own, initially this gave me pause. After some personal deliberation, I came to a few conclusions. First, I strongly believe that each and every photo does stand on its own. Second, that writing is a natural outgrowth when creating art, and that its very act can, and has, helped stimulate previously veiled imagery.