To our dearly departed, Local Ephemera: We miss you!
Ever since photographer Jonathan Bouknight’s final post last month, I’ve searched for an appropriate time to say a few words. In his farewell address, Bouknight directed his readers here, a gesture that I feel requires acknowledgment, and thanks:
Lost though you may feel without me, stay current on the Atlanta art scene by checking out Burn Away … (which I keep wanting to call Burning Man). They keep the information flowing.
This is less a eulogy than a letter of appreciation—and rededication.
I hope my post last week wasn’t misinterpreted. While I can’t speak for my colleagues, my own reasons for wanting to “retool” this site, and for asking for advice, are simple: I want this to be a place for ideas, and I want it to feel like home, i.e., a place where people return again and again. So, it isn’t exactly an “expansion,” so much as a return to our roots.
In a recent email, Bouknight explains why he started Local Ephemera (aka Local E.):
Thinking back about the blog, I went into it with the purpose of spreading the word about the Atlanta art scene. I was also curious whether community could be fostered through the blog? I think I achieved my goal in spreading information and got a kick out of fellow artists listing a blog post on their resumes. The community part developed slower but I really felt it, I made many new acquaintances through the blog and some interesting discussions developed.
What happened to the days when blogging was personal? That is, when writing a blog also meant facilitating dialog?
I remember a particular post on Ghostmap Microwave that made it up to 14 comments. It had almost nothing to do with Atlanta art, but the community felt inclined to participate anyway. Although I don’t pretend that comments in any way serve to measure a blog’s success, they do contribute to my personal satisfaction as a writer.
One post that jumps to mind is my review of Michael Thrush at Octane Coffee which turned pretty heated, and the artist got involved [19 comments]. I could never guess when a post would generate conversation and when it would be met with total silence.
For me, the most fascinating part about Local E. is that fact that—though I’ve tried on this blog, more than once—I’ve never been able to truly duplicate Bouknight’s technique. My attempts have been choppy at best or, as is usually the case, just shy of vanilla. The fact only deepens my appreciation for the hours he spent on each post and, further, my awareness of the delicate relationship between works of art and the words that “describe” them.
It was that skill—the poetics of image and text, arranged in such a way that the words actually converse with the photographs—that eluded me.
More words from Bouknight:
What became the trickiest part of the blog for me was to write about the art while trying to remain outside of realm of ‘criticism.’ As an artist in the Atlanta community I do not think you can straddle the roles of critic and artist without the two conflicting. While artists do often have the best insights into the art of others, I think the role of critic needs to be independent of art maker. One of the blog posts I most enjoyed making was the review of Dead Flowers at Eyedrum. I enjoyed pairing the work with the Dickinson poems. It got me all jazzed up to make a blog in which there is no critical writing about the art but instead visual or written comparisons and connections—to put a show of art into a wider context. I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll get around to trying it and see what happens, but for now I’ve got work in my studio that needs to get done.
In his email and in previous dia(b)logs online, I’ve learned a lot from Jonathan Bouknight—especially from his views on the role of the critic, and what criticism-as-such both succeeds and fails to do. And of course, it was always fun to $teal from his blog, and to observe him operate as the reluctant paparazzi of the Atlanta art scene (check out these “candid” photos of Mike Germon, Sylvie Fortin and Jody Fausett, and yours truly).
Jonathan Bouknight is represented in Atlanta by Whitespace Gallery. He has a studio at the Contemporary, loves his whippet Junior, and ironically, was the subject of my first review on BurnAway.org. We wish him the best.