Making Sense of Confusion

In his book Mind the Gap, Joshua Lutz points to the physical, mental and psychological void we are confronted with in our daily lives.

© Joshua Lutz, from the book Mind the Gap

Joshua Lutz’s latest book, Mind the Gap, may at first look evoke a sequel of his previous one, Hesitating Beauty, which was a meditation on his relationship to his mother’s mental illness. A dive into Mind the Gap though reveals a very different approach. Texts and photographs intermingle to take on various forms of authorship – while some of the writings take on a diary-entry type of narrative, others are transcripts from foreign conversations, excerpts from newspaper reports, or pure fictions.

“I see it as a way of speaking about the suffering of the world we are going through, a quest for clarity within the confusion”, Lutz explains. The narrative unfolds, alternating between humour and darkness – the weirdness of the scenes he photographs can’t fail to bring a smile, as we can never be sure whether they are staged or not. As a matter of fact, they are not. It’s our mind trying to make sense of the odd. In the middle of the book, a still life of a board game called “The Game of life” sounds nearly philosophical in that context.

© Joshua Lutz, from the book Mind the Gap

The absurdity of certain situations helps navigate the tragedy inherent to the work – that is, the frustration of not understanding clearly what we are exposed to. “I believe that humour is one of the only ways that we are going to get through all this, to look at the world and our place in the world”, Lutz comments.

By flirting with fiction, Lutz somehow reenacts what one is exposed to while navigating his or her own reality. “As consumers of images, we tend to want to understand some small aspects of truth that underline the images we are looking at”, Lutz notices. Each time though, he takes the reader towards another direction, as an invitation to experience rather than to understand. “It’s about just being, as pure as it can be”, he says.

© Joshua Lutz, from the book Mind the Gap

That’s the gap – introduced with a pun in the title of the book - our impossibility to fully ground ourselves despite our overwhelming need to know. Most people in the photographs are suspended, tilted, unbalanced, looking down, all signs of deep confusion. And Lutz to suggest: “What happens when we don’t know? For me, in the brief moments when I am trying to do that, I am not lost in the narrative that I am trying to unravel so much; I am just experiencing it for the sake of the experience.” At the end of the book, a man lies in the grass, in the shade of a tree – is he homeless or rather relaxing? The answer is ours. Or simply, not important.

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Mind the Gap by Joshua Lutz

Published by Schilt Publishing

Hardbound with linen cover // 160 pages with 65 photos in duotone and full colour // 20 x 24.5 cm

BUY HERE

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Joshua Lutz is an artist and educator working primarily in photography and text. His other monographs include Meadowlands (2008, Powerhouse) and Hesitating Beauty (2012, Schilt Publishing). Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Laurence Cornet is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn focusing on cultural and environmental issues.

PHM 2018 Women Photographers Grant
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