Bear Kirkpatrick: A Loaded Gun – essay by Brian Kubarycz

His Life Had Stood—A Loaded Gun: Myth and Metamorphosis
in The Photography of Bear Kirkpatrick

My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—
In Corners—till a Day
The Owner passed—identified—
And carried Me away—

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods—
And now We hunt the Doe—
And every time I speak for Him—
The Mountains straight reply—

—Emily Dickinson


Bear Kirkpatrick’s photography delivers us from the world ruled by science, either modern or ancient. His Earth is not the Galilean ball of rock orbiting a ball of burning gas. Nor is it even the still and heavy center of the suite of heavenly spheres of Ptolemaic cosmology. Far closer is it to the snowy disc, described by Emily Dickinson, over which “worlds scoop their arcs, and firmaments row.” Indeed, Kirkpatrick’s world disk is still more primeval, a flat but living tissue, a tympanum. Space, for him, is no neutral vacuum but always a scene of lively action, a setting separated momentarily from the surrounding darkness through a burst of light. Like clusters of kites swooping and spinning overhead, his spaces collect and disperse, flock and scatter. The light sources which open these spaces cast their heat and brilliance as hands cast rocks or bones, in a moment of passionate commitment, a judgment or coup de dés.

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