The Art of Now
The Dixon pulls out all the stops for this one-of-a-kind show.
(page 6 of 8)
As a resident of New York City for most of his adult life, Matt Ducklo often photographed seeing-eye dogs as they helped their humans navigate the metropolis. Then he heard about a touch tour program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that allowed blind visitors to “see” famous sculptures. A museum devotee himself, Ducklo was moved to capture these experiences on film.
“In many well-known pictures from the history of photography, blind people are depicted as poor and afflicted,” says Ducklo. But the people on these tours, he realized, were highly educated and eager to engage with culture. So he jumped through all the hoops required to bring a camera inside the museum, and his photographs have been shown at galleries in New York, Memphis, and beyond.
The participants know they are being photographed, Ducklo adds, and they hope the pictures might encourage more visitors. “This isn’t why I’m taking the pictures,” he says. “I’m interested in what not seeing looks like. But I am happy if they help increase access.”
A Memphis native who graduated from the University of Tennessee and received his MFA from Yale, Ducklo says what he has always loved about photography is “it gives you an excuse to wander around and be in the world. It’s an activity that makes looking more purposeful.”
Three years ago, Ducklo returned to Memphis because “I wanted a change. It’s my home and it’s an interesting place.” And he’s made it more interesting with a gallery he recently opened, Tops, located at Huling and Front in the South Main Arts District, which is currently showing works by Memphis sculptor Seth Kelly.
Ducklo’s eye is now aimed at sights few people would think about or perhaps even notice. “I’ve been photographing church vans that are locked up in barbed-wire cages” about the size of a parking space, he explains. “[The project] began with one picture, and I kept noticing these vans and now I’ve photographed close to 20. I use a large-format camera so people wonder what I’m doing.”
Asked what makes a good photograph, Ducklo first responds, “This sounds like Art 101, but it seems to be about some struggle between the form and the content.” Then he concludes that it’s difficult to answer the question, adding, “If I knew what made a good photograph, then there wouldn’t be much reason to keep making them.”