But that one Let go
SANDI HABER FIFIELD
A poet’s job is to create images that can’t exist otherwise without words, however abstract or concrete. The photographer, conversely, works with images that must go beyond written description, otherwise the press; magazines, books and the Internet would feature only captions. Both forms are built like language; both are borne of ancient and modern human needs. For over thirty years Sandi Haber Fifield has arranged, conjoined, cajoled, wrestled with and plainly stated camera images in a career redolent with the plastic and lyrical use of the photograph’s immediate and representative effects. A chef, with infinite ingredients at her disposal, as well as a wizard with endless potions, Haber Fifield strategically invents ways to work with pictures purely as sources. Her approaches have included sandwiched overlays of photo-collage, grids, exploded patterns of images on walls, and precisely chosen composite trios and quartets of images on a single page.
But That One Let Go is her first foray into the self-published portfolio. Consisting of thirteen images, lusciously printed on rag paper, it is an essay of contemplation with a Zen-like approach, finding the universe within the confines of an overgrown suburban tennis court. A little over 2,800 square feet from sideline to baseline for doubles, it loses its dimension and scale in a body of work starring nature’s insistence of life in every crack and crevice She can explode in. Birth, growth, decay and death – circular time stopped by lens and shutter is the subject of the work. Indigo and paprika, goldenrod and turquoise, just parts of the panoply of colors offset by the monochrome of concrete define a palette both comfortable in its perimeters and ecstatic in its range.
The choice of thirteen as the number of included prints is significant in many ways and intentional in its allusions, despite its infamous construct. Thirteen is known for its relevance to the female cycle, from pre-history aligned with the moon’s annual jaunt through the heavens, but Haber Fifield, an artist matured during an era when the obstacles for women were high and the stakes, higher, grasps the count and rejoices in its prime numerical status, and maintains the portfolio’s cardinal insistence while dismissing its ordinal. There is no beginning or end, no first or second, no listed order. The portfolio is generously accompanied by a poem by David Gorin celebrating the number of images with more than a slight nod to Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Both the pictures and the poem are fluid and can be read, or seen, in any order. In concert or apart, they are siblings, living together beneath the same roof.