kevinnance

A WORD ABOUT THE TITLES I GIVE MY PICTURES

People have asked me over the years how I come by my titles, and I’ve always been a bit hesitant to answer—not because I’m embarrassed by the topic, but because it has always been a bit mysterious even to me. Sometimes the titles are baldly descriptive; other times they hint at meanings that have occurred to me, and that I want to pass along. Some photos work just fine without having a title at all (though I still give them one, a holdover from my days as a writer), while others come alive to the viewer only when the title is there to ignite the imagination. Occasionally, I will co-opt an existing title or phrase—a line from a poem, say—because I associate the image, often obscurely, with the words in question. One of today’s offerings, “Triumph of the will,” is a case in point. Many readers of this post will recognize the phrase as the title of a notorious Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl, made in 1935 to glorify Adolf Hitler. It’s a risk, of course, to connect this with my photograph—certainly I don’t mean it as any sort of tribute to Riefenstahl or, God forbid, Hitler—and yet I admit that I’ve always been fascinated by the phrase itself, and admired its power to convey a vast and compelling concept. When I thought about my picture, tt seemed to me that the will of the irises to bloom in spring was far more determined and unanswerable than anything that ever occurred at a rally in Nuremberg. And there you have it. —KN

4

Fun with art © 2014 by Kevin Nance

(At the Bloch Building of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, designed by Steven Holl Architects. The artists and their work, from top to bottom: Andy Warhol, “Portrait of Marion Bloch,” 1975; Wayne Thiebaud, “Bikini,” 1964; Duane Hanson, “Museum Guard,” 1975; Donald Judd, “Large Stack,” 1968.)