Thursday, April 30, 2009

apartment for rent: masochist a plus

I first started photo-fixating on these church marquees maybe five years ago when I noticed just how many there were in my local area. I stopped almost a year ago when I tried to edit, print and exhibit them and instead realized how void the images were of any real sentiment.

The irony was clear - the historic purpose of the marquee is to announce or advertise the featured event or performer. Some of these church signs simply do just that, stating the time and leader of the upcoming Sunday's sermon. The others, however, usually try to use humor to do what - lure the unaffiliated or perhaps wayward soul into a specific denomination through comic relief? "Let's meet at my house Sunday before the big game! - GOD", "Swallow your pride, it contains no calories", "Trouble sleeping? Try counting... your blessings", "God answers knee-mail", etc.

Like many of my fine art photo projects, I went to the same churches, week after week as the signs changed so I could photograph them at different times of the day - the same thing only slightly different, over and over again in still photographs throughout an indefinite period of time. Just writing that long, run-on sentence-fragment makes me excited.

Early one morning, I stopped at the store between churches to grab a package of cashews and as I sat in my car munching on them, I barely noticed a man coming out of the store with a chrysanthemum plant. He got into his car and drove off. I did the same and when I arrived at my next church, I saw the same man walking from his car with the plant. As he set it down in front of the church before that Sunday's service, I realized it was the actor Morgan Freeman looking (in my opinion) a little annoyed at being (accidentally, in my own neighborhood, mind you) followed. I wanted to get out of my car and calmly explain to him the coincidence; that this was my church too and I had been photographing it, not him, for some time. Instead, I drove away without taking my photo nor explaining to him the difference between me and the paparazzi.

There is one of these signs across the street from where I live now, across from where a neighbor of mine is raising a fresh baby boy. I can't help wondering each time when I see a new message, "A wise child hears his Father's instructions", "A child brought up in church is seldom brought up in court", "In the dark? Follow the Son", "Christians are not perfect and innocent but guilty and forgiven", what kind of impact these suggestions will have on this young, impressionable fella.

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