Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Destination: Home

As Thanksgiving approaches, our minds fill with the people we are grateful for, those who make up our everyday, those we keep close despite the distances between us. In an effort to bridge those distances we book our flights, stand in security lines, sit in hours of traffic, or send cards and gifts in our absence. On Thanksgiving, we become pilgrims again, traveling back to the places from which we come, or to the places that are growing dear, to the places that inspire us.

Unlike her previous work--capturing the Rolling Stones or a pregnant Demi Moore, Annie Leibovitz's newest book of photography, Pilgrimage, does not contain any people. Instead Leibovitz travels to the places that inspire her: the places where the pioneers of various fields of literature, photography, and art once lived, worked, composed.

As you flip through the pages, rich with portraits of place, you will not miss the people. There is no absence in this book. Somehow, in capturing these abandoned objects, empty rooms, and open landscapes, Leibovitz has managed to reveal the presence of those no longer there almost as powerfully as if they were staring back at the lens.

My favorite image, the two-page spread of the top of Virginia Woolf's writing desk, tells me more about that writer's process than I could get out of reading a 200 page biography. Introspection adorns the delicate intricacies revealed in a close-up of Emily Dickinson's white dress. A bullet hole that Annie Oakley shot through a heart target appears to be freshly torn.

Leibovitz's project began with family. During a difficult year, she set aside time for her children, taking them on vacation to Niagara Falls. As her two girls stood on a precipice overlooking the falls, Leibovitz wandered up behind them, camera in hand. She saw what mesmerized them and snapped the photo that now adorns the cover of her book. Behind every photograph of place is an image of someone she loves.

Happy travels.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

Jodie this post is wonderful. I am going to look this book up right now.
love you kissez xoxoxoxox
- z