Rick Ochoadust and dusk (2014)

Ochoa passed away last year.

I didn’t know him and was not especially familiar with his work. But I did note the outpouring of grief regarding the loss of a dear friend, trusted co-conspirator and ally.

I’m a little late arriving but this image takes my goddamn breath away.

First of all it, reminds me of this iconic shot of Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express. Not in execution so much as substance–there’s a sense of individual agency, verve and independence. As if in the moment where the scrim separating performance of identity from bed rock selfness caught in a breeze and at the exact second the rift between the two was the largest, the shutter clicked.

Second there is something not unlike the tension in the best Vermeer’s, where you find yourself thinking that in a moment the maid will have poured all the milk out of the pitcher, that the letter will slip from the young woman’s hand and drift like an autumn leaf to the floor. Is the girl with the enormous pearl earring turning toward you or away from you?

Is the model Penelope Machine breaking eye contact to experience her own inner world exclusively on her own terms or is she about to make eye contact and share something devastatingly wordless but immediate and true in the way that only standing in the truth of the moment with another?

What I’m saying is that Ochoa–unlike so many of the rest of us who think Barthes’ notion that photography is death obsessed–find a way to make photos that if you turn your ear to them, you might well hear the faint ticking of a clock. Or in this case, the beating of a heart.

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