Today is a curious coincidence of superstitious and mythic festivals, being Easter Monday and Ching Ming, the when ancestor's tombs are supposed receive an annual dusting and general sprucing up. Both events themed with ghosts of some sort. And today, as I settle down to some light bank holiday reading, I am drawn first into the dark world of Goya and then the equally challenging but more contemporary world of photographer Roger Ballen, via newspaper reviews.
I am attracted to that which most people avoid and have developed an appreciation for the imperfect and am often repulsed by the so called perfect and its cloying beauty. Some months ago I finally got around to making a small suite of photographs, documenting the beggars, strategically deployed along the median strip outside our local shopping centre, here in Ningbo. I had been toying with the idea for while but had some reservations about the idea of using these people as photographic subjects. I was probably also concerned about their reaction and my own safety. But from Goya's drawings and Ballen's captivating photography it is possible recognise the courage needed to delve so deep, to stare straight at death and the cast out. Then I wonder to what extent photographs really are self portraits.