Barbara Morgan’s Martha Graham, Letter to the World (1940) embodies tension poetically. In addition to its dramatic contrast of black and white, the photograph brilliantly captures a paradox of time. The composition immortalizes an intense moment of dance, however photography is an inherently static medium. This tension is my favorite aspect of the work. It is beautiful and so human. We have always been fascinated with time: mapping it, stopping it, collecting it, owning it.
People crave time. We always want more of it. More to spend with the people we love, or to go somewhere new, or to have a moment to relax, or some extra time to work. Time is a commodity, not one that we want to save, but rather to invest. When spent wisely, time can yield great returns, which makes us greedy for more.
That is the problem with time: we cannot simultaneously have it and still live. We can’t preserve it perfectly within a frame and have it remain authentic.
So what do you do when you realize you are running out of time – when a deadline is drawing ever closer?
I haven’t figured that one out yet.