Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Kent Rogowski


From Birth to Death

From Birth to Death (Detail)

Life is a lonely place

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Why am I doing this?

Let Yourself Go

You and Me

You and Me (Detail)

Beginnings Without End
Kent Rogowski

Everything That I Wish I Could Be is an exploration of language, emotions and the desire to change and improve one’s self. There is a self-help book for every moment or problem in life; from relationship advice to dealing with the inevitability of death. Each large format photograph, pictures an arrangement of title pages and spines, of up to 100 self-help books, that are based around a central theme or idea. Most of the books are opened to their title pages and tiled and stacked together to form an grid like image. The faint alternating hues of the aged paper of the title pages, form the background of the images, and give the compositions movement and texture, while providing a visual structure for the viewer to read through the titles. Together, the titles create larger narratives, which become portraits of emotions, people and events in life. For example, in From Birth to Death, an entire lifetime of events can be outlined and made to unfold using the books that were written to sooth those transitions and moments. Since advice often differs, the narratives can change depending on which direction the viewer’s eye moves through the image. While the project looks at the self-help industry, I am more interested in the larger questions of how we communicate and deal with moments of pain and change, as well as, the patterns and contradictions that are often inherent in language, advice and differing philosophies.