Travelog By Charles Harbutt

Travelog

SUMMARY Travelog

My photographs are both real and surreal, Charles Harbutt writes of this book, containing some 120 examples of his work. For a while I called them superbanalisms. I don't think of this book as a portfolio of my best work, but rather as an integrated set of photographs that express where I have been psychologically, emotionally, physically. In a way it is Bloom walking the world. The loneliness, alienation, and fears, the lusts and sexual sorrows, the difficulties of sustaining emotional relationships. The damage people do to each other and the delight they can and do give one another. Throughout the desire to break free. At the same time it is about what is specifically photographic about photography....Harbutt's art was developed within the documentary tradition that has nurtured such other Magnum photographers as Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Werner Bischof. Nevertheless, in the images caught and fixed so sharply here, Harbutt transcends this tradition, not by denying it, but by bridging the gap between the abstract or pure photograph and the documentary statement. Although the book does not follow the too-prevalent narrative documentary pattern in which visual statements are in part determined by a preconceived verbal scenario, still the progression of the images reveals consistencies of theme and structure that are appropriate to a genuine book, as opposed to an exhibit of photographs unrelated except by quality that is reproduced in book format. The book is absolutely literate in terms of the photographic medium itself: formal values and content are so totally fused that one is able to read it many times and find deeper meanings each time.The subject matter Harbutt looks at and into is common to the experience of us all--but he sees it in an intensely uncommon, personal way, and in turn he allows us to share in his vision. The first three sections of the book reveal the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.The World brings the inanimate to life--automobiles and buses and buildings are seen largely in isolation from their human context and assume a reality and animation all their own. The Flesh is a revelation of pure humanity--children are caught in the act of growing up; adults are shown leaving clues to the meaning of their groping lives. The Devil is a nighttown of images of evil--religious incantations, sideshow bacchanals, dry bones in a coffin.In a final section, Harbutt-Bloom returns from his odyssey, bringing his travelog full circle. In Home, he lovingly observes wooden chairs waiting in a garden, a boat in a bathtub, a curtain blowing in an upstairs window, a bird, a dog, a child at play, a family relaxing together under the warm rays of the sun....Harbutt's work has appeared in all major international magazines and has been exhibited throughout the world. Travelog