Maybe I’m getting older and jaded, but it’s been a long time since I’ve opened a book and gone, “wow”, page after page. Last week, Bill handed me “Blue Eyes” by Stuart Hawkins. I hadn’t seen anything like it. I immediately thought, “why haven’t I seen these before?”
The book came out in 2006, has an introduction from Joel Sternfeld, and is unbelievable. Why? Because Hawkins’ portraits and streetscapes from Nepal aren’t your typical slice-of-life 3rdworld-through-westerner’s-eyes photographs. She collaborates with her Nepalese friends to achieve images that speak to globalism, worship for all-things-American, and generally tackle heavy, cross-cultural issues with a lightness, a wink, and an admirable sense of humor.
There was a show of her work at Zach Feuer Gallery in NYC, who’s archived the jpgs on their site. Apparently she was part of a show at Quality Pictures in Portland this year, a gallery run by an ex-Atlantan, which is how the book ended-up in my hands.
Like anything, her photos suffer on the web. I find that each time I open “Blue Eyes” I see something new, something unexpected. Stuart also makes videos, apparently. Would love to see those.
If you think street photography is over and done or your eyes tire at seeing another picture that looks just like the last, take a look at Hawkins and guage what she’s doing to breathe life into the ordinary. She’s not afraid to stage things, and some of the photographs are partially staged, in which both parts reflect the other into a delightful mirror’d fun house kind of streetscape.
She doesn’t rely on the hyper-clarity of medium-to-large format cameras to deliver her vision, she creates the vision and hopes that the camera can keep up with her. It does, but barely. And that discrepancy pulls you further into her field.
I’m glad I’ve seen this work. It inspires. More, please. Thank you, Stuart.