“Attention is pure good. What brings states of high attention is successful as art without further ado.” –Tim Allen and Andrew Duncan
This is one of my favorite ideas about art, and is also a big reason why I carry a camera everywhere. I worked on farms in Italy and Norway all of last year, and I’ve heard plenty of arguments against taking photos, because a lot of people think of a camera as a barrier to real experience. But I think life is hard enough without the little contrivances I trick myself with to pay attention, or the little goals that having a camera inspires. I wouldn’t have helped with the lamb slaughter if I didn’t have a camera. I wouldn’t have led the 34 year old horse up the mountain. I doubt I even would have traveled. I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily corrupt about living a life for the purpose of making it into art. We all pick our devices to cope with the huge scary stream of sensations, and that’s mine. I love animals, and I think the pictures I took last year are the best of my life. This year I live in the city. I used to have anxiety dreams where I’d miss the most beautiful moment to photograph, but now all my anxiety dreams are about the subway, though I’m missing more beautiful moments than ever—the other day I saw a guy wearing a boa constrictor around his neck like a scarf, but didn’t dare to take out my camera. I’ve realized that I’m almost always too shy to ask people for a photo, and when I do, they pose self-consciously. With animals there’s none of that, thank goodness. I took these photos in the Italian alps in the summer, in Lygra, Norway in the fall, and in Tuscany in the winter.
Molly Dektar is from Durham, North Carolina. After graduating from Harvard, she traveled on a Henry Russell Shaw fellowship to Norway, where she interviewed farmers about their experiences with climate change. She is currently studying for her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College.