Tightrope

by Jackson

What a day. I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope strung high.

Yesterday, Monday April 12th, was my birthday. It was also the day I quit my job, and the day the International Centre of Photography accepted my application for the 2010 school year.

I delivered my two weeks notice at 8:45 am on Monday. I had given it a lot of consideration. The office politics are growing ever more painful and cut-throat as the conference we’re organizing approaches. As uncomfortable as that was (and still is), it was manageable. It was making me sick, but I would have stuck it out. I can survive much worse abuse.

What really made me decide to leave was the opportunity I have been given to take part in two exhibitions this summer and fall. As the first two real showings of my photography, they need my attention. With deadlines coming soon, I felt that I just couldn’t get everything done in time. Now I can. I was struggling to finish my artist statement, a document that I have been writing for eight years, more or less. Now I can. It’s a big step, but sometimes you just have to walk the tightrope.

They held a birthday party for me at work in the afternoon. My supervisor didn’t come. My boss was unusually silent. I’m not sure if they knew I was leaving or not, but the conversation among my co-workers was unusually sedate. We talked about squirrels for some time, and I didn’t mind. There were eight timbits left over.

I applied to the International Centre of Photography in January. I received the confirmation email yesterday at 5 pm.  The ICP is a small school in New York City. I am enrolled in the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism One-Year Certificate Program. My class of 40 or so students comes from approximately 18 different countries.  The professors and facilities are top notch. It is a real opportunity.

It hasn’t sunk in yet that I am moving to New York. I can do this, I have been building toward it for a long time. Now I can do it. I am ready to go and the real work of actually getting there begins. Phew! Overwhelming.

I spent the evening with my family and the people I love. We barbequed, ate 1-2-3-4 cake, talked politics, and listened to pop music. It was a perfect Ottawa night, lounging on the back patio. I need more of these.

Finally, as a birthday treat, please indulge me a tune with some very funky “happy birthday” singing:

Janelle Monáe, “Tightrope”

I love the contrasts in this video. The stark black and white tuxedos against the muted institutional colours, the high Pompadour and short pants, the incongruous mirror-faced ghosts, everything is just the right amount of off beat.

And everything is perfectly, beautifully crafted. The lighting is supple, the colours luscious (I think the RED camera, a super high-definition digital video camera, was used) and crisp. I particularly like the beginning, where the two male dancers are sitting on a bench. The large, soft and direct light coming from the camera position is so smooth on the lacquered tiles. The next scene, where Monáe dances down the light-filled hall, is a perfect visual counterpoint.

This song is part of a series of songs about freedom and slavery (and robots). The liberation of dancing is potent material for a music video. Thanks Janelle, for making ambitious pop music. I will walk your tightrope: