“The home is an environment that triggers the senses, memories and the grand narratives that life has to offer”
How one goes about turning a house into a home varies upon experience and sentimental or emotional need. Ownership implies a difference of value. Mortgage and the implied indentured servitude between life and payoff set the precedent for a purchase in which, apart from the financial obligation, years of intended life experience proceed with the purchase. The house is transformed into a home with these expectations and the nesting qualities that follow. If you dwell on it, it makes perfect sense that the home becomes a place of safety, rest and familiarity. It is a place concerned with life-altering moments and can also be categorized by the time that passes through its worn stairways, slender hallways and musty attics and garages. The home is an environment that triggers the senses, memories and the grand narratives that life has to offer.
In the beginning, a home functions as all of the above, but if purchased secondhand, the home offers other deviations from intention from immediate familiarity. Namely, the house has to undergo a process of transformation to home. The remnants, ephemera and “noise” from the previous occupants have to be removed, challenged or modified to suit the new inhabitants. Whereas the architecture of a home and its floors and walls do not always undergo a change- the wallpaper, appliances and furniture are some of the first prevailing features that incur deportation from new owners. Paint charts are consulted, cabinets gutted and floors, garages and basements are emptied of their former glory and accomplishments. These changes create a chaos in which dust, debris and the density of other people’s lives exit stage left.
A home is also a place in which we investigate our relationships, our familiarity and our couplings, collusions and coterie of collected and shared experiential alliterations. If we share our home with another person either in passing or with some amount of familiarity, the spaces coordinate themselves to the needs of each individual. A space in the basement becomes a work area for doddering men and women wishing to take a brief respite from the commons and an attic can be transformed into a space of productive writing for an individual seeking solace from the functions of slapping screen door, the dripping faucet or the thunderous leaping from the bunk beds by progeny and hound alike. Each animated piece of home rotates and finds its natural point of rest, solitude and departure. In this sense, the home shifts from a house when it effectually orchestrates its inhabitants, not the reverse.
“Each animated piece of home rotates and finds its natural point of rest, solitude and departure. In this sense, the home shifts from a house when it effectually orchestrates its inhabitants, not the reverse”
Cirprian Honey Cathedral by Raymond Meeks is a book about a home. Home in Ray’s case is not limited to the work it needs, the former resident’s leftovers, or the moments spent scheming its transition, per se. Home for Meeks is about all of those things, but it is also about how his home is occupied (not shared) with his partner and muse, the artist Adrianna Ault. It is about the synthesis of observation and toil. It is about how to familiarize oneself with the process of home and what it means to extend the philosophy inherent within “place” and living. Home is many things to many people, but certainly within that very sentiment is the ability to perceive or observe the characteristics of a home as a psychological space in which emotion, need, desire and reflection become necessary motifs in the examination of life and its relationships to others.
What draws me deeply to Raymond Meek’s work is his uncanny ability to frame images and his poetic license. There is something that haunts his images, though it’s hard to put the finger on what exactly that is. If I had to sum up the courage to put a word on it, it would be the word bittersweet. Perhaps it is my projection, but I feel the weight of time when I go through Ray’s books and his home. I feel the gravity of existence and am compelled, with some minor amount of fortitude to dissect the images and measure their momentary and fleeting nature as analogous to bodies, lives and memories. His images stand at the cusp of something that I cannot completely define. They become analogous to the dissolve we all carry in our movements as ephemeral beings.
Something as simple as moving into a new home, managing its contents, dusting its corners and looking at the traces of former occupants feels at points forensic in Ray’s images, but in that expectation is the knowledge that it is not a crime that inhabits the frame, but rather a condition of being, a genuflecting and rational altar from which to pitch emotions, rumination and inspect the signs of a former occupant’s passing in something now moving towards the familiar with new voices and new scratches to the upholstery materializing. Homes are comforting and yet, not every house is a home simply because its occupant changes…This is how I feel when I live in Ray’s photographs for a glimpse, a moment, a lifetime.
Further, there is something caring in the bittersweet word that I mentioned that I find in Ray’s work. Perhaps it is an intimacy. It is certainly close and in the frames of Adriana, the examination or fascination that I feel through Ray looms large. I do not sense their relationship per se, but I sense their indebtedness to one another as author and muse and perhaps more. You cannot get this close to someone without trust and you cannot exemplify this ability to be examined without a similar pretense. In this, I find the true beauty of these images. To observe and to be observe-to care and to be cared for. It sounds so simple and yet…
“In this, I find the true beauty of these images. To observe and to be observe-to care and to be cared for. It sounds so simple and yet…”
On technical grounds, Ciprian Honey Cathedral as a book is as lush as the photographs that inhabit the covers. It sports a beautiful and reduced cover which features a text collage. The stanzas and verses are also found throughout the book and its simplicity and consistency gives added weight to the images inside, and inspired from none other than Nick Cave (music). The back plasticine cover also bears two translucent images found within and echoes in their miasma the focus between home as a place and home as a person.
The images from Meek’s that complete the book itself oscillate between a brooding chiaroscuro and a sublime colorful investigation of the familiar. The monochrome images of Adrianna Ault, Ray’s partner and muse are stopped down to create the somnobulism that features in much of Ray’s work which at times feels like a waking dream of unbroken affect. These images are worked between beautiful color images of the house and keep which add an elegant vibrancy to the work. I am often asked what books are successful that feature the use of both color and black and white images. Ciprian Honey Cathedral would be case in point. The sequencing and stacking of images is also successful, with single pages featuring double images. This is technicality is likely a remnant from the way in which Meeks considers the artist books that he produces as is the poem mentioned previously.
It’s hard to think of Ciprian Honey Cathedral as anything other than the continuation of brilliance of behalf of Meeks. Though I love that he continues to think through the book arts practice that he has been honing for years, knowing that his work will reach a larger audience is a fantastic notion. It is my hope that in publishing this, that his influence and kindness will spread.
I am no longer able to observe personal number 1 picks in the end of the year list as I do not think it’s a fair summation of any year, particularly 2020, so I will simply say Ray has my Highest Recommendation…