Friday, April 06, 2012

photo friday: looking up

© Amber Schley Iragui 2012

© Amber Schley Iragui 2007

© Amber Schley Iragui 2012

© Amber Schley Iragui 2012

I am of the opinion that most artists should not open their mouths. Put more kindly, words are not their talent: I often find when I read about art, especially something that was written by the artist, the art itself loses some power. I had originally written about the photos I'm posting today, but then I deleted the post. It was so boring. Whatever mystery or beauty the photos hold was stripped by my mundane observations. There are exceptions, of course. William Blake and Maira Kalman come to mind. Or Allan Say, the author and illustrator of the beautiful children's book, Grandfather's Journey

Next week is Holy Week in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and in that vein I'd like to suggest the concept of bright sadness as the Photo Friday / Holy Friday theme. This phrase can be interpreted any way you'd like, and the photos certainly don't need to show Easter or Holy Week in any way. However, as a point of departure, here is what theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote about bright sadness:

{During Lent} a certain quiet sadness permeates the service: vestments are dark, the services are longer than usual and more monotonous, there is almost no movement,... nothing seems to “happen.” At regular intervals the priest comes out of the sanctuary and reads always the same short prayer, and the whole congregation punctuates every petition of that prayer with prostrations. Thus, for a long time we stand in this monotony—in this quiet sadness.
But then we begin to realize that this very length and monotony are needed if we are to experience the secret and at first unnoticeable “action” of the service in us. Little by little we begin to understand, or rather to feel, that this sadness is indeed “bright,” that a mysterious transformation is about to take place in us. It is as if we were reaching a place to which the noises and the fuss of life, of the street, of all that which usually fills our days and even nights, have no access—a place where they have no power...
Thus, as we experience this mysterious liberation, as we become “light and peaceful,” the monotony and the sadness of the service acquire a new significance, they are transfigured. An inner beauty illumines them like an early ray of the sun which, while it is still dark in the valley, begins to lighten up the top of the mountain.
—taken from Great Lent, published by SVS Press


Jenny Schroedel said...

Oh, these are beautiful. I especially love the top one with (is it Ike and Charles?) reflected in the glass. I am excited to explore Bright Sadness next week.

Manuela said...

Thanks for sharing the passage from "Great Lent". Our Holy Week is this week and I went to a three hour service yesterday, that was very much like the one described in this passage. I love the concept of "bright sadness".
I also think that the third picture could pass for next weeks theme as well.
The wall looks intimidating to me, dark and threatening. But when you keep looking, you discover the small square of light high up, brightening up the darkness or sadness.
I think this photo is my favorite of the four.

Julia said...

I like that there is something warm to find in each photo. I'm sorry I was so late with mine this time.

There is something really comforting about finding a long passage from Schmemann here.