Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Photography of Robert Ogle

Desolation Row

What do you get when you transplant a native Minnesotan to the lush life of the streets of Paris?

You get someone who brings the cold with him.

Photographer Robert Ogle found himself drawn to living here and set out to illustrate the works of Walter Benjamin, the German theologian and philosopher (1892 - 1940). He poo-poos this idea now as perhaps pretentious and if there's anything that Robert is not, it is pretentious.

He doesn't glorify, idealize, pander to the Paris's past, even that of Montmartre where he lives, because he is just a plain-speaking man from Fargo, North Dakota, with a great eye and "un talent fou." An intellectual in spite of himself, he teaches photography part-time at the American University of Paris.

Robert Ogle takes his camera with him and has an unerring eye for street life and the odd reflection in a shop window. Take a look at the photo above. Now take another look. I have exhibited his photographs here twice, have collected them for three years, and know that there is an endless satisfaction in seeing something new every time. And also that his photos have increased in value (!)

Walter Benjamin writes: "Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories."

Perhaps that's it. Looking at his work I see the loneliness of childhood long ago, but also longing, decay, desolation. He says "I want art to change my life. Or change the world."

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