Perceptions Artist's Statement Review

 Ulysses at Grove Hill, 1969 — Brinklow, Maryland

Review from Peterson's PHOTOGRAPHIC Magazine, September, 1972
things are seldom what they seem

There is a place in everyone’s subconscious mind where reality totally ceases to be, well, reality. It’s the place where our dreams occur-dreams and nightmares, visions of life that are both impossibly serene and unimaginably terrifying. Psychiatrists will tell you that what makes a dream so irritatingly private and difficult to share with others is not that the images we dream are so cryptic or strange, but that only few of us have the vocabulary to describe the things we “see” in the deepest recesses of our minds. “there was this man in my dreams,” someone will say, “but he wasn’t a man; he was a cloud of this dark gas…then he was a wall, a huge brick wall, and then…” A failure of articulation, that’s all. We all experience it, to one degree or another, and we’re all frustrated by it, but that’s part of life.

For some, of course, the inability to characterize the dream image is not nearly so restricting…And so it is with Photographic’s September Portfolio Contributor, Wilson North.

Wilson …has the ability to envision a photograph, even the strikingly surreal images on these pages, before he begins to create it. None of these photographs are accidents, none are serendipity. They were carefully planned, and copiously executed to achieve the precise effect North had already envisioned. (He)… has brought forth and rendered a startling, sometimes dark vision of the world the way it is not.

Recognizable shapes and forms lose their normal textures, contexts, and characters. A tiny kitten is transformed into a bleak, threatening apparition; a mime in a clownface becomes the luminous specter of some unnamable fear. But in all of these prints, no matter how personal their statements, there is pervasive feeling of familiarity, of universal recognition. What Wilson North seems to know is that within our great collective subconscious, there is an indefinable, visual sameness; a common dream in which things are seldom what they seem.

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