A Pig and a Lady and a Justin Davies
There’s a lot to look at when you’re inside The Pig and the Lady, or what we should all refer to as PATL. Whether it’s the salad of beautiful sprouting seeds, P&L pho, or any cocktail made by that swaggerous mantender behind the bar, Kyle Reutner, it’s easy to overlook the photography on the wall to the left. And only unadventurous diners would.
But if you so choose to lean over the people sitting at the booths, you’ll see some really interesting photography by Justin Davies.
By manipulating his own photography with old photos he finds in fair-use collections such as the Library of Congress, Davies, a Honolulu-based photographer, creates dreamlike situations of quiet tension. Like mixing Jerry Uelsman with a less optimistic Ken Burns, Davies creates a perforated, revised American history and lets the viewer fill in the gaps.
The series of seven collages, curated by fishcake, is up at PATL indefinitely, and Davies’s work will also be on view at the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s Nanogallery the whole month of April.
PHOTOS / QUOTES BY DAVIES:
“I guess there is a few ways I start. One is I look through a lot of images, most through the Library of Congress archives, and when I come across something extremely striking, I’ll file it away, keeping it in my mind. An unusual character, thinking I’m going to use this person. I’m going to use this scene somewhere. And then, as I come across other images, I relate one to the next.” (photo: Karst, courtesy Justin Davies)
“I’m interested in evolution and particularly interested in this idea that, while we have recreated the world for most inhabitants of it, animals, plants and otherwise, we also have recreated this world around oursleves and built around ourselves a context that is very different than the context from which we evolved. There is a bewilderment that comes just from being born in the age that we’re born into.” (photo: Fishladder, courtesy Justin Davies)
“I’ve started to think about it as photographic theater. I’m creating the theater using photographs touched up and assembled from my own sources and from old archives. But I’m really interested in creating a scene and creating a set where that scene takes place.” (photo: Svamp, courtesy Justin Davies)
“For any image, I kind of go through maybe a couple hundred images that I’m evaluating. So some of them grow that way. For others, I have a rough idea of the type of scene I’m trying to create: a carnival sort of atmosphere, or a snowy scene, so, you know, sometimes I’ll start more from that end and search words for ‘snow’ or ‘bridge’, because I have a general scene in mind.” (photo: Disremember, courtesy Justin Davies)
“I had been taking pictures down at the tide pools. I have a few images that I had done first, where I had set people in this tide pool area, with the scale really distorted, so the landmarks and the physical photo that I took appear much larger than they really were. So I have one of this dog attack in the tide pools, and if you look carefully there’s an opihi that’s half the size of the guy, so I got interested in the setting and decided I wanted to have a boxing match in the setting, so I started hunting around for boxers and went through hundreds of pictures of boxers. When you cast an actor, that person takes on this role, they lose their personal history. I think of myself as casting these characters.” (photo: Canine, courtesy Justin Davies)
“Because of the expression in Leach’s eyes, and physically, he’s very much in his prime, in great shape, taking things very seriously, I had the idea to put another image of him in the scene, or maybe a few images. I started searching. I didn’t know anything about him at that time; he was just identified as ‘Leach Cross’. I’m not a boxing fan, he’s obscure—in any case, it was a handle I could use to find other images of him. I typed in ‘Leach Cross’ and found a result that said ‘Doctor Leach Cross’, and that’s the picture you see in the background. At first, I thought that I got the wrong guy, but the name was so unusual, and he’s got the right nose. Could this have been his dad? Then I looked at the date and saw that it was the same guy. The scene then became more about the aging process, and I got interested in the child, and the way a child becomes aware of their parent’s mortality and their parent’s aging, so then the image really became about that. There’s a man who did age—the photograph is called The Unanticipated Aging of Dr. Leach Cross because I think aging does all catch us by surprise, even though it’s obvious. It’s going to happen.” (photo courtesy Justin Davies)