In August, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center presents the photographs of Dale Crandall-Bear in an exhibition called Marking Time: A Journey through Ancient Lands.
“In the spring of 2008,” says Crandall-Bear, “I embarked on a long-anticipated journey into distant time. I sought an encounter with the ancient past – beyond the youth of my own country and beyond the ‘middle age’ of Europe. I found what I was looking for in the deserts of Egypt, in the back alleys of Damascus, and on the barren plains of Anatolia. The images in this exhibit are the photographic impressions of that journey.”
“As a traveler,” Crandall-Bear asserts, “I am always an outsider, hemmed in by the boundaries of my own language and identity. As I made my way through Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Greece, I was plunged into unfamiliar worlds and vibrant cultures that flowed around me in the ancient streets and marketplaces. There was an easy familiarity among the people whose daily lives were shaped by long years of custom and tradition. But I also felt the echoes of a strange dissonance. The atmosphere was punctuated by frustration, longing, and contradiction. Three years before Arab Spring, I could feel it in the air.”
“Back home now, I follow from a distance the demonstrations in Egypt, the war in Syria, the chaos in Greece. I think of the people I met in 2008 and I wonder about their fate. I see press photos of places I had been. Many have become war zones or refugee camps. Public squares are now sites of desperate confrontations between the dispossessed and the forces of ‘order’ in crumbling states. We are witnessing the passage of these ancient lands from a vibrant past through a troubled present into an uncertain future.”
Crandall-Bear credits the work of two photographers for helping to shape his visual journey: Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson. “Both were French and shared a passion for photography. Otherwise, they could not have been more different. Atget lugged a large view camera around the environs of Paris, framing on his ground glass the enigmas of a vanishing world. The restless Cartier-Bresson plunged into the tumultuous events of the 20th century, freezing iconic decisive moments with his small, handheld Leica.”
“I let both mentors guide me as my journey unfolded,” Crandall-Bear explains. “If Atget had ventured into the Middle East, what would he have fixed in his ground glass? If Cartier-Bresson had wandered through the suqs of Syria, where would he have found the moments that were decisive? The images in this exhibit are my best attempt to answer these questions.”
A long-time member and past president of Viewpoint, Dale Crandall-Bear is Professor of History at Solano College, specializing in the study of visual culture in global societies. His teaching focuses on the history of art, photography, and cinema in world cultures. Extensive travel in Europe and the Middle East enhances his academic work as well as his personal photography and filmmaking.
Dale Crandall-Bear: Refectory, Monastery of St. Paul, Egypt
Dale Crandall-Bear: Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Dale Crandall-Bear: In the Ruins of the Basilica of Qala'at Samaan, Syria
Dale Crandall-Bear: Children of the Village of Al-Bara, Syria