You may be part of the “them’s” and you may be part of the “us”. I suppose that it depends on what you look like, your weight and sex, your skin color and where you came from or where you want to go. Also your hair color and eyes and your smell, your scent. Ah, also your accent, this will potentially place you in either camp. And of course your beliefs, this is crucial. What and who you believe in and what your think happens after you die – this decision of yours is certain to put you on the “inside” or the “outside”.
And once your are in one of the “camps”? Will you take the steps necessary to rise to the top, will you strive to conform to the behavior and beliefs that will allow you to “succeed”? Will you follow the others and let them know that you are just like them? Will you sing their songs and use the special words that they use? What if you want to do things differently? No, you must not. If you were to do such a thing, you would jeopardize your future and you will not end up were you (they) want (you) to go.
And again, for your appearance, if you do not look quite right, they can fix you. You can do some things to change! If you work hard and exercise, you may be able to look like you “should” look. And if you find the right doctor, you may be able to fix your “flaws”! And you must find your place, for after all, you are nothing if you do not find your “place”.
Conform, belong, live beside and abide!
Conditions (Meier and Mueller, 2010) by Andrés Marroquín Winkelmann explores these notions of “us” and “them”. Through dark and quiet pictures of the “outsiders”, we glimpse what it means to live in parallel instead of in line. There is a silence and a blanket of color that falls over the scenes. A melancholy atmosphere that feels like the moods during fall as the clocks change. The sun comes out with striking beauty but it wants to go quickly away, as if it is tired and ready to hibernate. Figures and symbols, juxtaposed in this beautiful little black book, are emphasized by an innovative double binding. This split down the middle allows you to create your own narrative. The design, crucial in this execution, lifts the book up further than it would go without it. This physical function works to reinforce the symbolism and meaning and the feeling of chameleon-like existence out on the fringes. The object itself becomes intertwined with the pictures.
The team of Meier and Muller have created in their first venture an object of beauty and mystery, a physical thing that should be held and maneuvered. And they have brought a story of universal conditions, and of being apart and yet being very much alive.
(© Doug Rickard, 2010. All rights reserved. All images © copyright the photographer and/or publisher)