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Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo Christian Michael Filardo selects A Glass Darkly by Kevin Lear as Book of the Week.
A Glass DarklyBy Kevin Lear Mack, 2017.
Christian Michael Filardo selects A Glass Darkly by Kevin Lear from Mack as Book of the Week.

"Flash, bright and relentless, brings that which is shrouded in darkness into light for a short moment. Revealing what is normally hidden to the naked eye and making it accessible to view. I too have walked the streets alone at night with a camera ‘round my neck, flash attached ready to illuminate any willing subject in the void. In some cities, the quiet engulfs you, the delicate soft air of late evening surrounds. It’s an isolating feeling, being conscious and awake while the rest of the world dreams. For about 20 years Kevin Lear roamed the streets of Kent and London at night, in the quiet, alone. In their first monograph, A Glass Darkly, Lear reveals the subtle, isolated, monolithic brilliance, of his 20-year residency pounding the pavement.

The phrase ‘a glass darkly’ comes from the writings of the Apostle Paul. Essentially, we view life through a dark glass because our individual perspectives cloud our vision. Only at the end of life, when we meet God face to face, will we be able to see clearly. Oddly, this metaphor is fitting in regards to the nature of photography. The constant struggle between understanding what is real and what is not. Playing God within the context of documenting the everyday. Realizing that our eyes see much less of the world than we comprehend at any given time.

Lear is looking. Lear is looking very hard — or perhaps locating the slightly askew and mild disturbances in the mundane comes naturally to him. If you are looking to be shocked, this is not the book for you. However, if you are looking to really see something, then it’s your lucky day. At first, I was drawn to A Glass Darkly by the stark cover image of a round concrete orb illuminated by an aggressive flash. While, I wasn’t immediately struck by all of the images in the book, after a few times flipping through, I began to hear Lear’s whisper in the quiet of his images. Not only is Lear documenting his surroundings, he is revealing what might lie beyond his images — a world where people exist, a world where people once were and no longer are. Lear preserves the past in the present only for the present to become the past, like a peaceful apocalypse.

Lear shows us where we are allowed to go and where we are not allowed to go. Fences, walls, signs, all obstruct a point of entry. He mixes these images of vines and barriers, stark interiors of bars, and bizarre locations that are unrecognizable. The level of intimacy with the outside, urban, brutal infrastructure of the city is both ridiculous and incredible at the same time. In his own way, Lear is attempting to see just how clear he can get the glass, working it over to reveal a slice of reality in the dark.

Ultimately, we have a lot to unpack in A Glass Darkly — years of work, meditation, and concrete. Extremely English, extremely quiet, Lear’s first monograph is a triumph that proves good things come in time. Easily, one of the best books I’ve seen all year, you have to experience it yourself." — Christian Michael Filardo

Purchase Book

A Glass DarklyBy Kevin Lear Mack, 2017.

A Glass DarklyBy Kevin Lear Mack, 2017.

Christian Michael Filardo is a Filipino-American composer and photographer living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He recently had a solo exhibition called Tumbleweed Replica at Current Space in Baltimore, MD and is the current shipping manager at photo-eye bookstore.

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