John Munson: Morocco - Returning to the Motherland
Photographer John Munson takes us on a journey with his deeply moving images. In this series of photographs, generations of history, figures of people known and unknown and remembrances of landscapes and city streets converge in a cultural intersection that is both personal and universal. Through the lens of his camera, he sheds light on accurate details of daily life in Moroccan society. His photographs portray the memories of the child he once was, living with his family. They are also illustrative of a father returning with his own “Americanized” children after nearly thirty years to the native land and rich culture of his heritage.
John Munson’s sense of art is shaped by his experience of being the son of a Moroccan mother and an American father. He seems to perceive in many dimensions at the same time—past and present; history and current moment; lived experience and expectant dream. What does he see and what does he show us? Physical space and real place are not only part of his individual memory, but rather illustrate for the viewer a pattern of representations associated with “being” and “identity.” In other words, the photographs in this exhibit show us, in the most valuable and relevant way, what it means to be alive and complex--to be human.
Munson presents us with an essentially philosophical point of view. In a world of intertwining identities and cultures, “place” is subject to our own negotiated perception. As philosopher Merleau-Ponty suggests, “Because we are in the world, we are condemned to meaning.” Perhaps the greatest function of art is to create new meaning in the world; to re-invent the past in and through the present moment. Hence, the artist is always the one who accentuates the shadows and the margins, showing us the delicateness and essential triumph of the act of remembering. Artists, such as Munson, help us to understand our relationship with the periphery, asking us to reflect on our own reality, and, eventually, to embrace a better understanding of ourselves.