LOSING YOU by Russell Harbaugh
March 2011

I met Geraldine several weeks after burying my father. He had died on the other side of my bedroom wall, in our living room, after an excruciating battle with cancer. His illness was both quick and forever—I still sometimes dream him sitting at our dinner table, having already died once, and us, his family, hoping for the next departure. For the relief of an ending.

I recognize this waiting game—the terror of it, the exhaustion, the spurts of indifference or denial, even moments of joy—in Geraldine’s powerful series of photographs. The organization of images—the ways in which they collide to evoke a composite emotion, a more specific articulation of experience—are cinematic concerns and belie her narrative impulses. Here, in these fifty images, one accumulates an astonishing depth of feeling, an acute sensation of grief and the struggle to pre-empt it. She has managed to catalogue life in the face of death, to curate a personal experience in an attempt to make meaning, even if such a thing is painfully elusive.

A private shelter from a force that won’t be ignored, Geraldine’s individual photographs are pulled taught by the over-riding theme; nothing can be taken as it is, not even laughter or a lover’s kiss, children entangled or a woman preparing dinner. These are all moments trapped in the invisible gas of sorrow, freighted with the anticipation of loss. The portraits of her father hover throughout: a reminder, a promise, a threat. 

Like Robinson Jeffer’s HUNGERFIELD, there is a kind of territorial anger here. A staking of one’s ground. For all the characters in the series, the most important indeed is the photographer, Geraldine, our hidden protagonist, claiming what’s hers while she can.