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Still Life with Perspective

An art teacher once told me I should like Paul Cézanne’s apples. I appreciated their curvature, their indolent realness, but I never wanted to reach into the painting and grab one. The thing as the thing had little impact. I prefer the thing as not the thing, with enough thing-ness to recognize it while keeping up some guesswork. What does it mean? Without the question, I can’t fall in.

I frequently look through Suzanne Saroff’s photographs, in particular her Perspective series, out of greed. I’d love to acquire one, but often have difficulty deciding which is my favorite piece. Suddenly I am equally drawn to lobsters, tulips and cabbages. She narrows down the world for me. These days, when the world is out of touch and I find only myself satisfactorily within reach, I turn to the insight which a refracted gaze offers. 

Her glass-object arrangements illuminate both flaw and excellence in her subjects as fabrication, inviting me to choose how I will think of it afterwards. Much like how time is passing, or I tell others that it’s passing. Presence is not verified into existence until perspective recognizes it. The collagen levels in a barracuda’s face. How vaginal a papaya is. The papyrus of roses. The independence of grapes.

I shovel my remembrances upon my understanding, knowing the look and feel of an experience is less fact, more fiction. Like an artist, I can make it all up. Other memories are ghosts, like a morning flower hunt at the local nursery.

I call up my partner to describe these contemplations. He enjoys how I look at things, he says, since he employs straightforwardness. I mention my fondness for portraits, self and otherwise. These photographs are portraits of the souls of things.

The one with the lobster, he suggests.


Suzanne Saroff is a New York City-based photographer, who seeks to find new ways of interpreting reality through her work.