The Meaning of Tethered Through The Eyes of Charles Grogg
Photographer Charles Grogg has produced a number of hauntingly beautiful portfolios, the latest of which is “After Ascension and Descent”. This portfolio is remarkable in the since that Grogg takes an array of ordinary objects ranging from a simple envelope to a stem of roots whose limbs spread out like tentacles, and he ties these seemingly random objects together through the use of materials that bind or help to connect. These items: string, wire, rope, roots, veins all act as metaphors for our connection to life. They become, as Grogg states, tethers.
“After Ascension and Descent” was inspired by a desire to know one’s roots, the roots which are mostly hidden, those that reach far back into time and place giving our lives context and meaning as we continue moving forward, growing our own roots and touching the lives of those who are present and those who are yet to come. What emerges from this idea is the notion that all of life is connected even when those connections seem invisible. It is both a hopeful yearning for collaboration and involvement, but also a recognition that the possibility of pain exists within the ties that bind.
“Over time, I was surprised how nature seemed to copy my ideas (doesn’t naiveté have an important place in making art?), how wires, tethers, ropes, strings, conduits all appear whenever there is something important near; a house receiving its utilities, a sapling projected from the wind, cattle grazing at a fence. I knew I must be tethered too, as well as all the people I care about and even those I don’t know. We are engaged and prevented at the same moment, kept for and kept against, united and divided all at once.”
“After Ascension and Descent” is printed on silver gelatin paper and toned in selenium. The images are smeared with dirt and mud in encaustic and then pierced with copper wire or sewn. Sometimes the sewing takes place on the photograph while at other times the sewing is part of the conception of the image. The craftmanship of Grogg’s prints as well as his curious compositions point to connections we would never have made.
My favorite quote from Charles Grogg is this, ” Thinking in these terms has resulted in these images, an expression of desire for growth at the moment of inhibition, when hesitation is the gap between desiring and having.”