Jim Stone’s Idiom Savant uses photographs to interrogate the human condition. They are portraits that reveal eccentricities in ordinary people and normalcy in oddballs. One ambition of these images is to hold a mirror up to the viewer. Certainly they hold a mirror up to the artist, who engages strangers about their pursuits and passions in order to gain insight into his own. His passion is in wandering, somewhat aimlessly it seems, and initiating conversations that result in a revealing portrait.
These photographs are purposefully unambiguous in order to locate the indeterminate. The last few decades of critical theory have rendered indefensible any assertion of photographic truth, but a “documentary” style remains useful. A haiku-like title appears with each image to answer the first questions a viewer might ask but, as Alfred North Whitehead said, “We think in generalities, but we live in detail.”
We asked Jim some questions about the series:
Hi Jim, can you tell us what inspired you to create Idiom Savant?
Idiom Savant is less a specific project than an ongoing quest. It is an outgrowth of work that appeared in Stranger Than Fiction, an artist’s book published by Light Work in Syracuse. It may eventually distill itself into another publication, which would tie a bow around a particular sequence of images, but it would be unlikely to satisfy my curiosity about who we are and why we do what we do, nor to alter my need to address those questions photographically.
If we sent you to a desert island and allowed you to take only one picture by another photographer, what would it be?
Choosing one photograph to take if I were exiled to a desert island (which, frankly, wouldn’t be too much different than living in Albuquerque as I do now) I’d want Joel Sternfeld’s “Exhausted Renegade Elephant.” But, because color prints are so vulnerable to storage conditions, that would only be if I had an illumination and climate-controlled space for it. If not, I’d want Robert Frank’s “1955 Trolley - New Orleans” and I’d just keep it in the shade. Both photographs are perfect examples of the medium’s metaphoric power.
To view more of Jim’s work, visit: www.jimstone.com