Untitled (bathing suit, calla lilies, two-dollar bill)
Excerpt from “4 Digressions on Picture Titling” (text commissioned by the Theo Westenberger Estate
[ http://theo-westenberger.tumblr.com/post/97162637389/four-digressions-on-picture-titling], July 2014. )
I could make three photos: let’s say the first one is of a forlorn one-piece bathing suit hanging from a peg in a mudroom. The second is of calla lilies, à la Mapplethorpe. And the third is of a two-dollar bill. But where to put the bill? Hanging out of the man’s wallet? On his dresser? That’s the problem with photos.
Or instead, I could write the stories, which would be like titles that are too long, but shorter than your average wall text. The three stories would be arranged on one page, in chronological order, and that page would function as a photo. I could finally use that “Untitled (with parenthetical descriptors)” convention that I never completely understood, but it may make sense here. The Untitled… convention does seem to allow one to both say something, and not say something. To quote Thornton Wilder, “…art is not only the desire to tell one’s secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time.”