Crushed/Optimistic:  Photography, Poetry, & Brandon Forrest Frederick
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Crushed/Optimistic: Photography, Poetry, & Brandon Forrest Frederick

Crushed/Optimistic: Photography, Poetry, & Brandon Forrest Frederick

Brandon Forrest Frederick is an artist / organizer / educator / person that I happen to know very well. We have worked side by side for four years as members of Archive Collective, and both pursued our photographic educations in the same institution (four years apart). This shared experience means that neither of us can navigate Brandon’s work without first considering its relationship to the functions, the implicit qualities, and often, the inadequacies of photographs. Seeing these things as a driving force, rather than a limitation, enables Brandon to meet the viewer between playfulness and subversion in an exhibition like Sensible Disobedience.

The following writing was made in response to Brandon’s practice and efforts to explore new modes for working through his ideas, as well as my own desire to bring this level of intuition and experimentation to art writing.


Image of Brandon Forrest Frederick’s work courtesy of the artist.


Photographs like


an aphorism

a truth

of everyday objects

that we all know


aim to




but not without


a certain poetry

in reflection

that comes from empathy


not declarative

or assertive

but a clear question


of ‘the everyday’

that feels elevating.


Faith placed

in observation

to share

to take with you

and consider

in daily interaction


a ‘something out of nothing’

like that cliché

of vernacular photographs.


Beauty in and of the everyday.


Transforming like

through the lens



decisions made

for photography


between us

the photograph

and the outside world.


Process like

an overly complicated means to an end

calling attention to what confounds

(see Rube Goldberg)

presented clearly




that perhaps art can be simple

but our ideas

and truths

are more often

somewhere in the mess.


Humor like

Science Fiction

a good way to talk about tough things

and tough times

with the ability

to stay light.


A rigid object


a signifier of culture

shared alien

collapsed space

stuffed soft

crumpled again

our combined laughters

are first ones of

Michelob Ultra

of consumption

and second of

extravagant photographic failures

and wit.


A flaccid pillow

a more obvious joke

not dumb



evolving from


avoids only partially

some underlying sadness

of the still image.


New work



lit from within

with the same punchline



a new gift

an archeological dig

through American habits


not the American spaces

we learned about

in Photo History.


Teaching and making

as learning


a new education

and new ideas

or shared ideas

and new vehicles.



guided by the process


not by what we already know.

SENSIBLE DISOBEDIENCE: DISRUPTING CULTURAL SIGNIFIERS IN A NEOLIBERAL AGE was curated by Lynnette Miranda -Charlotte Street’s Curator-in-Residence- and is up through April 22nd 2017 at La Esquina (1000 W. 25TH STREET KC, MO 64108)

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