Halfstory Halflife

By Raymond Meeks

Over the course of multiple summers, I’ve ventured the few miles from my home in the Catskill Mountain region of New York to a single-lane bridge spanning the tributaries of Bowery and Catskill Creeks. Beneath the bridge, a waterfall drops sixty-feet over moss-covered limestone toward a forbidding pond. The local youth have come here from time immemorial, a place known regionally as Furlong. They congregate near outcroppings and around a concrete altar – the remnant of an earlier stone bridge. Most allow themselves a brief running start before launching their pale bodies into the void, where tentative suggestions of flight mark a response to gravity.

In this arrested state where time slows, the body yields to grace. Everything is possible in this moment of surrender. Taken collectively, their gestures allude to ritual, a prayerful response to the exigencies of budding sexuality and a future rife with uncertainty. Theirs is a procession into something unknown and necessary, silent weightlessness. I’ve come to see the pictures - which are a result of four seasons photographing at Furlong - as the representation of our collective need for transcendence. There is solace to be found in communion with others and in refuge with the natural world.

This work was published by Chose Commune in Autumn 2108 under the title Halfstory Halflife and is a distillation of the photographs made in the shadows of these falls, marked each summer by the emergence of young adults perched at a precipice both in space and in their lives.