Nurses

July 10th, 2008

1211220464 Nurses I’ve had this post in draft for a while, waiting for the right time to post it. Something on Dave Swanson’s blog yesterday made me think now is the time. Watch the video to understand what I’m talking about in my comment.

In general I like Richard Prince’s work. But I’m very aware of the issues raised by his methods.

In many ways there seems to me to be a direct line from what he is doing right back to Duchamp’s “Fountain” which was rejected by the Armory Show. And Dada is my favorite period of art in the 2oth Century. But I find myself wondering if Dada didn’t send art down a dead-end street that is going to require a retreat to allow 21st Century art to find a new direction and move forward.

But for now, I find inspiration in what Richard Prince has done.

I’ve been working on a series of photos I’ve been calling “Scary Nurses.” I think it is now time to start showing these photos and that some explanation of them is in order.

It was a trip to the Guggenheim in NYC that tripped the switch to start this project, but as I’ve worked on it I’ve come to understand that the beginnings of it go back to my early adolescence.
1211220511 Nurses
“Nurse” is a powerful symbol. Nurse is a unique juncture of fantasy, fetish and fear. Nurses provide comfort and pain. They do the sponge bath and the enema. They wipe us off right after we enter the world and they hold our hands while we die.

At the Guggenheim I saw an exhibit of work by Richard Prince. After spending quite a while looking at his work I entered a room filled with his Nurse Paintings. Those paintings had such a powerful impact on me that it was almost overwhelming. They were huge and frightening. They were riveting. I was surprised at how much of an affect they had on me.

Since Richard Prince appropriates everything he works with, it seemed totally appropriate to me to appropriate his nurse idea. Well, at least I wanted to see what I could do with photography to tap into that powerful feeling that the nurse icon produced.
So I started working on nurse photos. And as I did I found myself exploring the roots of the power of the nurse as symbol for me. I remembered a medical crisis when I was about 14 years old. I was at the hospital to get X-rays for what the doctor thought might be a brain tumor. (It turned out to just be a very bad sinus infection.) Bu1211222687 Nursest the main memory I have of that day, 42 years later, is of a young beautiful nurse sitting at the end of a corridor in her hat and white uniform with a very, very short skirt. A huge distraction for a 14-year-old boy.

I’ve chosen to blur the faces in most of the nurse photos. For me that represents the anonymity that accompanies the intimacy of our interactions with nurses. And, of course, the surgical mask also contributes to that feeling of distance and mystery. When you see all those masked people you aren’t really sure if they are there to take out your appendix or to rob you. Then later you get the bill from the hospital and realize it was both.

So, I’ve been exploring these thoughts and memories through this series of photos. I hope you enjoy the results and maybe find your own memories and fantasies through them.

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About this Blog

Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

All photographs and written comments on this blog are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.

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