Artist Spotlight: Meghan Baas
By Jay Armstrong
“A little less than a year ago, I bought my first film camera because I couldn’t afford a new digital one and I wanted to try out a new medium. I immediately fell in love with the ritual and process of taking film photographs. It forced me to slow down and take my time. Everything looks so romantic and dreamy through the lens of a film camera. I love taking my time to find a frame I like and pressing the shutter to hear that inimitable click and the winding of the film afterwards. In general, I tend to over think things, so when I take film photos I try to not think about it and just let it happen. I think my best photos happen when there’s a moment I get so overwhelmed with some kind of emotion because of what’s before me and I have no choice but to perform that ritual and capture it. Save it for later. When I want to look at it and remember. ” – Meghan Baas
Positives do exist in digital photography– sure they do–and of course elitism in art should be respected minimally when at all–so let us not begin with a condescending approach comparing this photographers medium to others. It would be impossible though to consider the affecting work of Meghan Baas without acknowledging how it boldly speaks to why the loss of film would be a tragedy to be mourned through time eternal.
When learning technique we are told over and over again how the worst enemies for the classic photographer are dust in the lens, static build up from friction of internal camera parts, and aged film. I want to scream in a full-on justified fit each time we hear it preached; nothing could be further from the truth. Here we have a perfect example of why. Where did our societal demand for crisp, clear, soulless, perfection come from? Did they ask your opinion on it? I certainly never got invited into the board meeting. Give me the imperfections of life! How else do we even know we are real? Give me the voice with personal definition. Give me substance. Give me not the lowercase bourgeoisie escape from boredom cloaked in upper-class arrogance, no I want all caps ART in its glory of expression as a reflection of the artist speaking to the grit and beautiful appreciated nearly not enough in the day to day. Give me art as a reflection of life; give me Bukowski, Godard, Link Wray.
Like our fathers driving alone through the night listening to Seger’s “Night Moves,” the photography of Baas bleeds nostalgic tears for the timeless irreplaceable MOMENT; the living memories felt infinite from creation on. I could lose myself in her shots, staring for hours in the warm embrace of “how great thou art.” This is a craft which found her as much as she it. Our lives are made better by the union. The texture of her chosen format creating this space between the intimacy of her place in the reality and our gift of being witness to it; the space spoken through imperfections key to the balance too often missed and always longed for. Meghan Baas embraces the abnormalities often shunned with film, every frame soaked in gritty palpable texture of tangible unmatched beauty defining her work unforgettable while drawing a line of hushed direct narrative from Nan Goldin into the personal now of our time. Give us more of it!