Quickly, I wanted to introduce an artist who mastered the “picture a day” concept long before all of us. His name is Jeff Harris and he has been photographing a photo a day, to create a story timeline of his life for the last ten years. He started in 1999, as an attempt to document his existence at a time when the Y2K crisis was in full force. This diary was meant to only be a year project, but once the millennium did come he decided to document that year too, as a recording of the beginning of a century. From there, he just kept going, taking three to four photographs using a film camera, then editing them to convey the meaning of that day. In some of the photographs he gets help from his friends, as he sets up the camera for them and instructs them when to press down the shutter. He has also managed to get a couple celebrities, such as Al Gore, to be the photographer in the series as well.
Until recently, this entire body of work conveyed an ordinary story, nothing truly remarkable resonated within the storyline. However he recently has been diagnosed with cancer, and now the purpose and tone have shifted significantly. The presence of his sickness is extremely evident as he photographs various procedures and treatments. He is paralyzed in one leg, and is seen using a walker in many of the images.
His life is changing, he is struggling, but through it all he stays true to his project. In an interview I read about him, he talks about how he wasn’t sure that his life had any extraordinary significance, no storyline that would be interesting, but now he looks at all the work he has done, at this timeline of his life. He looks at the photographs the weeks before he was diagnosed, the day before even. And he sees his life one way, then he sees the photographs he is making now. After this event, and everything now, has a new purpose. It has given him something to fight for, something that keeps him going.
A picture a day is a concept that is becoming more and more assessable for everyone. But for Jeff Harris, he was among the first. He stays true to his analog roots and has yet to convert to digital. A project that started as an experimental diary for himself, is now giving unexpected meaning to his existence. This is art that is as personal as it gets, but for me, that’s the best kind of art. It’s beautiful, and heartbreaking, and compelling. I check his site to see what is happening in his life, what’s next. His life has become a performance, he has become the art.
Check out Jeff Harris’s Site right Here.