Matt Siber shared his series 2020 Meditations with Esthetic Lens. The photographs offer both a departure from the work he is widely known for and also a place to pause and look amid all of the upheaval in the world right now.
Due to everything being done remotely this past summer, my wife and I were able to take the family out of Chicago to stay on the coast of Massachusetts (my home state) for several weeks. This is something we usually do for a couple of weeks as a vacation, but we extended it substantially this year as a way to create a safe family bubble and give ourselves a little more space to move around in. I live in Wicker Park where streets and businesses are crowded in the warm weather giving rise to distancing anxiety. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being able to relocate for a while. It did wonders for my psyche.
Cape Ann, Massachusetts, where my family ended up for five weeks as a way to find respite from the tension and anxiety of the city. The work I made there was partly prompted by photographing the comet NEOWISE as it appeared to us over Ipswich Bay in July 2020. I made a regular practice of making photographs of the sky and the sea that I posted to social media under the hashtag #2020meditations. Almost entirely void of human presence and the constructed environment, this series is a significant departure from what my work usually deals with.
I was inspired by Kelli Connell’s similar series of Lake Michigan on Instagram. Terry Evans is doing something similar from a high rise on Michigan Ave. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Hiroshi Sugimoto’s primal photographs of the sea. There is a decadent escapism to the 2020 Meditations photos.
These images are low hanging fruit photographically and they don’t require a great deal of thought to make (which is exactly the point). The frame is always the same, and nature does most of the work. These photos allowed me to engage with the natural environment in a largely aesthetic way. I was able to tune in to light, surface, and weather, while fixing the frame on a specific patch of the Atlantic Ocean. Making these pictures was both easy and satisfying, which was just what I needed. The post-production work is a little trickier…
Matt Siber is a dad, artist, and educator living in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. His multi-disciplinary art practice employs photography, digital imaging, sculpture, and installation to address issues of consumerism and late Capitalism. His work has been published, collected, and exhibited nationally and internationally. Matt is an Assistant Professor, Adjunct in the Photography Department of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he has taught since 2010.