Ilene Berman

documenting without faces

In his new book, What We Made, Tom Finkerpearl says, “One of my pet peeves…. is that I don’t like to look at photographs of public art that don’t include the audience.” (pg 72). When I first read that sentence I was in complete agreement but something happened yesterday with Room13Delmar that made me reconsider the images of people in documentation.

Two young men were making holiday cards for their children and partners while Room13Delmar was on the sidewalk of Grand Boulevard, north of Delmar. One of them asked for some help with spelling and the other told me he had never used a glue stick before. Their cards and their faces were so beautiful, I would have loved to have had a photo of them. However, it was so clear that what was important about the moment was being present, sharing the experience with them. If I were to take out my camera and photograph them, we would no longer be in the moment together, there would all of a sudden be a ‘them’ and a ‘me’.

I didn’t take a picture the entire time they were with me at Room13Delmar, the experience, in public, north of Delmar, is exactly what Room13Delmar is about. Some would tell me that that type of documentation is exactly what I need to be able to tell the story of Room13Delmar. However, the story of Room13Delmar is only as beautiful as the moments that make up Room13Delmar; these moments have to be the focus at all times.

For today, I will rely on words to tell the story and, an image of Room13Delmar quietly in situ.

Ilene Berman