Thursday, April 21, 2005
When I saw this Jesus Santos in a village church outside of Oaxaca, my first thought was "Jesus in a box." What is Jesus doing in this little decorated box? This is something I need to photograph. Then I saw the little worm soap dish thing in the lower left hand corner and I knew I HAD to photograph it. One of the things that has drawn me to the Mexican churches is the mix of the religious/secular/ordinary. Often you find beautiful old Santos and the flowers at the feet of the Saint are in gallon cans that held canned jalapenos...with the label still on the can. But the worm with his goofy face sitting under this tortured Jesus just had to be photographed. When I developed the negative and was first trying to print it, things kept going thru my head about the Jesus in a box thing. Putting religious lives in compartments, leaving Jesus in the box of the church rather than as a part of daily life, etc. So after I had it printed and one of my sons looked at it, he said, "Mom, you shot Jesus on the toilet." This is something I had not seen or thought of at all now I can't look at the image without that thought going thru my mind.
It is surprising what we see in an image because we all bring our own life experiences to interpret what we look at.
In my photography collection I have an image of Linda Butler's from her Shaker series. The image is of some knit gloves. Everytime I look at that image I think of the way my mother's hands smelled when she helped me get dressed when I was a little girl. My mother didn't wear knit gloves. I don't know why that image brings this memory to mind but it does.
Sometimes it is interesting to find out what other people see in an image so I asked some friends what they saw in this Jesus and got even more interpretations.
Chip Simone said: "With no disrespect intended, this picture calls to mind the final scene from the play "Lenny" about Lenny Bruce. I saw it in NYC many years ago but vividly recall the end. Bruce, a heroin addict, was among a number of junkies in NYC that were sold a dangerously potent batch of the drug. Junkies began to die from it and the police tracked down the pusher to get names of his customers. The was in the day when Bruce was reviled by the authorities. "According to the play" the police deliberately kept the information from Bruce who fell victim to the drug. This is a round about way of talking about this image. In fact, Bruce's body was found in his bathroom near the toilet. In the very last scene of the play he was seated on the toilet leaning to one side, very much like the Christ figure is seen here... "
Another friend, Paul Ruby saw a couple of different interpretations: " What an odd gesture the Jesus icon has. The wall paper and the turtle soap dish at his feet and his seating position makes it look like he is listening to the stall next to him. See the way his hand is? He's trying to hear the conversation the person on the cell fone in the next stall is having. As far as Mexican Jesus icons go this one is different. I'd bet that the maker of the icon had the idea of Jesus listening to a confession. I've seen a priest cop that gesture in the confessional. "
What did you see?