When I was about 16 years old through my late 20’s, photography was my first serious art form. I found it was a way to record an important event, person, thought, and share with others how I see the world. My father’s surrealistic snowbank series in the late 1960’s, (examples in this section) opened a door to perception that helped me think beyond what we see. I began to create images in a multi-dimensional, surreal and/or cubist process when in my early twenties. Since then, I have found that some of the most meaningful photographs I’ve done have been those images reflected in windows, or in puddles….or when I manipulated multiple images that relate to each other. I think this interprets human experience more fully than just one image…. and ultimately led to my study of sculpture in the late 1980’s.
I taught photography at a summer camp in New Hampshire in 1971. When I was in college I was a photographer for our school newspaper and went to Washington D.C. to document the great Vietnam protest in 1969 for our college. That began my political awareness that grew into expressing sexual politics, and the use of double images before I even heard of cubism or Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
In Berlin, in 1971, the contrast of life between the East and the West was stark. I stumbled into the East side of the Berlin Wall while I had a day pass to explore the East side. I was allowed to photograph the machine gun holes when people tried to climb to freedom while the wall was being built. I am grateful to the communist guards who gave this college kid the freedom to create a story that demonstrates the human drive for freedom, and allowed me to witness first hand the evidence of how people risked their lives, and died, striving to attain a life they thought was going to be free in the West.
I hand printed the photographs on this site, many were heat pressed onto matboards.
Paul Cahan Dec 2014
Please click on images thumbnails for larger view: