Maybe fleetingly, one thinks of the famous series of self-portraits by Van Gogh or Rembrandt, but this “Self Subject” series by Douglas Busch is very different. Busch has little interest in the chronicle of his aging or in any rendering of psychological crises. (Indeed, save for the last image, optically tongue-in-cheek, providing the artist with a halo framed in steel, no image is titled Self Portrait.)

This is a document of the artist performing photography. As the photograph itself begins as reflection, the photographer is reflected in mirrors, windows, and among many others in the black polished granite of the Vietnam Memorial. His gauzy image floats in a pond next to the gaping mouth of a carp, in the waters of a lily pond, and mysteriously present among a soft blizzard of floating grasses.

In all, Self Subject becomes a project about seeing. Sometimes, the seeing is a puzzle. In downtown Prague, he stood just outside a gleaming doorway. Polished or mirrored panels of glass and steel are reflectors.

He is within the picture’s space, the architectural space, and simultaneously, on the street. Over and again, he hovers—naked in a steamed mirror, floating and out of sight, present only in his shadow, proof of presence amid Anasazi ruins, here and there, a fleeting record of his treks as photographer, taking his place in the visual allure and complexity of the world.

Donald Doe,
Grinnell College, Iowa