In 1994 Kurt Cobain was discovered, dead, in his home overlooking Viretta park, in Seattle, WA. Now the benches throughout the park act as makeshift memorials, even 17 years after his death.
What do you see in the below photograph?
Scribbles and scrawls; part of a bench, and maybe a tree. But this photograph isn’t about the tree in the background, or the bench, or even the scribbles and scrawls or the mementos left on the bench. I believe no photograph is about what the photograph shows, but about what the photograph does not show. for me, it is the story behind what a photograph shows that offers the intrigue.
Susan Sontag once wrote “A photograph is only a fragment, and with the passage of time its moorings become unstuck.” If this is the case, these image will last only as long as the memory of Kurt Cobain resides in pop culture, and will become irrelevant as a cultural shared grief fades. I cannot say how long that will be, but in the 17 years since the lead singer of Nirvana committed suicide, this shared grief lives strong, and can be seen in the letters and flowers left on the graffiti bench that sits in the park behind the house the angst-ridden star lived and died in. So, is this really a photograph of just a bench?