Cover of photography book Babel by Miriam Waterman

Photography book by Miriam Waterman



Preface   —Miriam Waterman

Throughout life we encounter what we perceive as real in others, even if what we encounter is truly identity, persona, or imposed self-perception. This series of photographs was initiated in the spring of 2009 in order to document the creative spirit and the rich group of individuals indigenous to New Orleans. I directed each subject to choose a word or phrase that he/she believed epitomized a core essence of his/her identities or personae. The subjects were also asked to choose the placement of the word/phrase as it would appear on their bodies, the location of the shoot, as well as a position or pose that best suited the revelation of their true selves or whatever facsimile of self they wished to put forth. During the course of the project, I kept a log in which each subject recorded his/her name, age, the location of the shoot, occupation, word/phrase, and a brief explanation of the chosen word/phrase. The majority of the subjects are occupied in some aspect of creative arts, but I have also included some who are simply art themselves. I have labored to dispel my contemporaries and acquaintances of the “overwhelming question” of what word/phrase signifies them, distills them. After conceiving of the project, my role became as purely objective as my instruments would allow. In other words, I refused to punctuate the sitting with anything but the click of my shutter.

  — Joy Glidden, Executive Producer, Art Index TV

“Miriam Waterman sends the viewer down the rabbit hole to meet the macabre! This intimate book of portraits finds true depth through Waterman’s keen sense of perspective. Words selected by the subjects lay a mysterious ground for an unsettling, gut-wrenching ride through the shadowed contours of the soul.”

  — Susan Anderson, Photographer, Los Angeles

“These portraits demonstrate that a carefully chosen word or phrase speaks volumes. By engaging her subjects in the image-making process, these pictures represent not only the point of view of the photographer, but are simultaneously self-portraits of her subjects. The result are images that resonate with a depth of human experience where others merely scratch the surface. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘Words are alive. Cut them and they bleed.’”