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E.A.S.T. (2010): Martha Grenon

client:Martha Grenon

date:23 Jul 2016

more: I must have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder because once I get on the east side of Austin I find it difficult to concentrate on one subject, no matter how carefully I’ve thought it out in advance. Amazing visions await! I find the still life on the east side of Austin to be an art form in its own right. Having supported my photography habit as a graphic designer for years, I am always on the lookout for interesting arrangements of alphabet letters, symbols, shapes and diorama-like yard art, no matter what continent I’m on. For this year’s “Facing East” project I cruised the district early on Saturday and Sunday, first, because it’s the coolest part of the day, but also because the early morning sun casts more intense shadows. As well, at that time of day there are few people trying to get anywhere in a hurry, so my wandering at 15 MPH does not inconvenience anyone. But it’s the living, moving people of the East Side that interest me most, because there has to be interaction between the subject and the photographer (who normally leads a solitary life). Since permission must be granted to capture someone’s likeness, photographing people gets me out of my car and shy mode. People are usually so astounded by the sight of my clunky old medium format film camera that they willing agree to be photographed; the camera is my door-opener, my passport to another world. Although I have taken photographs since receiving a Brownie camera for my tenth Christmas, I didn’t think about being a photographer until much later in life; I had other fish to fry. In the early 1980s, caught up in the Austin music scene, I began taking black and white photos again, processing film and prints in various makeshift darkrooms. Eventually, I was able to set up a darkroom in my home. I think it was that, along with my first visit to Albania in 1992, that made me realize that this was, finally, what I really wanted to do with my life: Make pictures. The camera became my license into other worlds and other people’s lives and my inquisitive nature jumped at the challenge of navigating terra incognita. Events in the Balkans went from bad to worse at a rapid rate and although I was unable to cover the wars, I return regularly to document the changes. My most recent project--Minority Report-- is concerned with the Roma (Gypsies) and their precarious position in the new world order. Essentially, I lead several lives, and making photographs has been my means of understanding and integrating these worlds, both here and abroad.

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