[Photographer, b. 1946, Quincy, Massachusetts, lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.]
The idea of making [conceptual] art was not a good way to approach things... Instead I saw myself as trying to make something that my relatives could understand.
Obsession and repetition in the process of making things is one constant element in my work.
I think I’m really fortunate to be an installation artist who is heavily invested in photography: I don’t have the emotional problems with the loss of work that some installation artists have. The photographs wouldn’t exist without the installation... but at the same time, I think I’d kill myself if I only did installations. There’s something deeply tragic about doing work that you know is temporal.
If you could see a photograph of what it took to make an advertising photograph—things you don’t think about, like the photo assistant carefully arranging the meatballs—the degree of unnaturalness would be astonishing. Yet it produces an image that looks natural, and is orchestrated to provoke basic emotional responses.
My work involves the physical manifestation of emotional reality. Thus, the invisible becomes visible; the normal, abnormal; and the familiar, unfamiliar. Ordinary life is an endless source of fascination to me in its ritualistic objects and behavior.
I consider myself fortunate that photography exists, because otherwise I’d be stuck in the tragedy of ephemeralness that can come with installation art.