Raymond Meeks is an American artist.
Episode 89: Editor’s Note- You may hear a little compression in this mix due to the length of the material, which are in effect two separate recordings. Raymond, Adriana Ault and I spoke a few months ago. It was important to include her voice to the mix as she presents a very important position both as an artist and her role as subject of many of Ray’s incredible images featured in Ciprian Honey Cathedral (Mack, 2020). The first episode you will hear however is Ray and I first followed by another recording of the three of us. This second (first on episode) recording was made in late September, 2020.
This is a big one for me. I have had a few artists change my vision over time. In fact, I have had many, but few have changed my approach to work or my working method as much as Michael Schmidt and Raymond Meeks. Its hard to explain how this happens. In some ways, there is an epiphanic moment for me when I find the work of an artist like Ray or Michael. It is usually triggered through books, more so than exhibitions and I count that medium’s politely insidious nature as being the reason the work hits so hard. It feels like the proverbial Alice in Wonderland motif, where in by the book as potion offers a trip to the reader who duly manages fall through a vast and cavernous alternate world that feels familiar, yet not exactly.
With Ray, the book that changed my way of thinking about work was Halfstory Halflife published by Chose Commune in 2018, and now cemented this alteration has been cemented with his new opus Ciprian Honey Cathedral published this autumn by MACK. I had not seen his work before HH and have been since lamenting the time passing until I could get my hands on Ciprian. Both books are “mass-published” and yet they also both exist in the form of an artist book. It is interesting to see the transition between both. I feel as though both carry the weight and intimacy of Ray’s work and though I wish I could afford more copies of the artists books, though I cannot. This is the reason that the release of both HH and CHC are incredibly important. Their price point means that Ray’s work can exist in more hands and can be celebrated on library shelves as well as in the homes of book enthusiasts alike.
What draws me deeply to Ray’s work is his uncanny ability to frame images and his poetic license. There is something that haunts his images, though its hard to put the finger on what exactly that is. If I had to sum up the courage to put a word on it, it would be the word bittersweet. Perhaps it is my projection, but I feel the weight of time when I go through Ray’s books. I feel the gravity of our existence and am compelled, with some minor amount of fortitude to dissect the images and measure their momentary and fleeting nature as analogous to my own body, life and memories. His images stand at the cusp of something that I cannot completely define and yet I know this incomparable ability to make me feel this longing, potential loss or inspection of self and place lull me into something approaching a reckoning about the dissolve we all carry in our movements as ephemeral beings.
Something as simple as moving in to a new home, managing its contents, dusting its corners and looking at the traces of former occupants feels at points forensic in Ray’s images, but in that expectation is the knowledge that it is not a crime that inhabits the frame, but rather a condition of being, a genuflecting and rational altar from which to pitch emotions, rumination and inspect the signs of a former occupant’s passing in something now moving towards the familiar with new voices and new scratches to the upholstery materializing. Homes are comfort and yet, not every house is a home simply because its occupant changes…this is how I feel when I live in Ray’s photographs for a glimpse, a moment, a lifetime, an ir-reality.
There is also something caring in the bittersweet word that I mention that I find in Ray’s work. Perhaps it is an intimacy. It is certainly close and in the frames of Adriana, the examination or fascination that I feel through Ray looms large. I do not sense their relationship per se, but I sense their indebtedness to one another as author and muse and perhaps more. You cannot get this close to someone without trust and you cannot exemplify this ability to be examined without a similar presence of the same. In this, I find the true beauty of these images. To observe and to be observe-to care and to be cared for. It sounds so simple and yet…
I want to give a special thanks to the team at MACK, Raymond, and Adriana for helping me put this out there. Thought I am happy knowing people will listen, the takeaway for me on a personal level is quite huge and will not be forgotten…