|Be for Me, Like Rain (M.A. Reilly, Wall Street, NYC, 2009)|
In Seamus Heaney's (2007) poem, "The aerodrome," he concludes:
If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.
|Bridge in Fog (M.A. Reilly. George Washington Bridge, 2009)|
I have long been enamored and intrigued by the people, locations, and circumstances native to Manhattan. Through my camera, I have sought to represent the bearings taken in ordinary lives: a couple out for a ride on a bike, a bridge in fog, a woman beneath an umbrella. Like most things human, Manhattan is a complex place, resisting the ease of categories. At once it is privileged, poor, nomadic, broken, healed, rooted, and common.
|Etta and Butch Go for a Ride|
(M.A. Reilly. Washington Square Park, 2009)
Although born in Ireland, I have grown up in the shadow of Manhattan and its rhythms have (in)formed the ways I see and fail to see. What I know about the geography of home has allowed me to look closer at all I don't know. In this manner, the familiar houses the unfamiliar, like an old woman houses her younger self.
|Homeless (M.A. Reilly. 57th Street. 2009)|
William Faulkner noted:
"I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it."
This visual record, a portfolio of sorts, is a testament of the bearings taken, markings noted, and cardinal points recorded. It is intentionally contradictory as stances are made (now and then) against such grain.
|Take the A Train (M.A. Reilly. Harlem, 2009)|
Through the lens, I have witnessed people love, be loved, and not. While shooting, I have found myself repeating a line in my head from Kathleen Norris's (2001) Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. She writes: "You have only to let a place happen to you...the loneliness, the silence, the poverty, the futility..." (p. 220).
It is in letting a place happen that I have learned (perhaps unlearned) how to hold still. A challenge that remains often uncomfortable and nonetheless important. This bearing witness is the closest thing I know to what might be called grace. As such it carries both burden and blessing.
|Bearings Taken (M.A. Reilly. Brooklyn Bridge, 2009)|
Heaney, S. (2007). District and circle. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Norris, K. (2001). Dakota: A spiritual geography. New York: Mariner Books.